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Title: Conflict, culture, closure : the interaction between politics and popular culture at the end of the wars
Authors: O'Doherty, Cahir Francis
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: In this thesis I engage with the topic of how popular culture and politics interact at the end of conflict. Using contemporary Hollywood action cinema from 2000 to 2014 and political speeches from the Bush and Obama administrations, I pose the question of how do these seemingly disparate fields forge intense connections between and through each other in order to create conditions of success in the War on Terror. I utilise the end of wars assemblage to argue that through intense and affective encounters between cinema screen and audiences, certain conditions of success emerge from the assemblage. These conditions include American exceptionalism and the values it exemplifies; the use of technology in warfare as co-productive of moral subjectivities; the necessity of sacrifice; and the centrality of the urban landscape and built environment. I then proceed to assess the resilience of the end of wars assemblage and its conditions of success by engaging with cinematic and political artefacts that have the potential to destabilise the assemblage through genre inversion and alternative temporalities. Ultimately, I argue that the assemblage and its conditions of success are strongly resilient to change and critique. The conditions of success that emerge from the assemblage through intense affective encounters can then be politically deployed make a claim that a war has ended or will end. Because audiences have been pre-primed to connect these conditions to victory, such a claim has greater persuasive power. In this thesis I utilise assemblage theory in order to ascertain how movies and political speech combine to create emergent properties that are more than the sum of the constituent parts. This thesis is at the intersection of conflict studies, war termination studies, and critical International Relations. As such, it makes a contribution to our understandings of how contemporary armed conflicts are brought to an end, the interaction between politics and culture, and it advances the ability of critical International Relations to engage with questions of culture, conflict, and closure.
Description: Ph. D Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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