One of my starkest memories of Thanksgiving 2008 was waking up in the middle of the night to the sounds of news coming from Mumbai. I was glued to CNN all that morning and over the following days. Transfixed, this moment marked a shift in the way terrorism operated internationally, as the reporting from American outlets seemed to take these attacks as a specific strike against Western ideologies. I explored these attacks as part of my Master’s thesis at UGA, looked at how Indian newspapers made sense of the attacks in the days immediately following the attacks. In short, this study inaugurated my interest in how news makes sense of the world by offering a discursive means for settling the facts around an event or phenomenon. These facts, and the ways they were told, bore the markings of power, namely post-9/11 ideologies that served projects of perpetual militarism in the service of Western capitalism and liberal democracy.
My scholarly work has expanded beyond this early focus on terrorism, but after years of development and refinement, I am really glad this study found a home in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies. It is an important venue in our field, ready to take in challenging and theoretically adventurous work.
Abstract: The November 2008 attacks on Mumbai stand as a key moment in understanding how liberalized Western values discursively construct the terms through which acts of terror may be understood. Rooted in the work of Foucault, this article examines newspaper coverage of the 2008 attacks on Mumbai from the Times of India, Indian Express, and Daily News and Analysis India. Journalistic narratives situated local values and identities inside a discursive structure that construed Mumbai as a victim of a new type of global terror whose threat can be stemmed only through America-centric policies of perpetual militarism. This paper argues that a critical analysis of the discourses surrounding terrorism begets an understanding of the terms that not only construct the attacks themselves, but also render sensible possible reactions to the attacks, even as Western values appear amid news texts published in domestic Indian outlets.