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Beyond 9/11

Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Twenty-First Century U.S. American Culture

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Edited By Christian Klöckner, Simone Knewitz and Sabine Sielke

Rather than turning backward and remembering 9/11, this book sets out to reflect on how the events of September 11, 2001, have shifted our perspectives on a whole series of political, economic, social, and cultural processes. Beyond 9/11 raises the question how the intense debates on the 2001 terrorist attacks and their aftermaths have come to shape our present moment and frame what lies ahead. At the same time, this collection acknowledges that the label «9/11» has often bracketed cultural complexities we have only begun to understand. In Beyond 9/11, contributors from the fields of American studies, political science, economics, history, theology, and the arts reappraise the cultural climate and the global impact of the United States in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

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Introduction

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Those who followed media reports in the wake of the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, may have been struck by how insistently radio, television, and internet features kept reiterating a claim that has been challenged ever since it was first made. Calling September 11, 2001, ‘the day that changed everything’ was perhaps a comprehensible immediate reaction to a terrorist attack of that magnitude - an event that seemed unfathomable, and unfathomably mediagenic, for that matter. Echoing this misleading assumption ten years later and ignoring all evidence to the contrary, most media coverage seemed a case of unambitious journalism as well as an attempt to reaffirm a narrative that most of us remem­ bered well and many would therefore digest easily, recalling a time when the present seemed disquietingly new and the future was still open, a time before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and before the 2008 economic crisis. However, commentators and scholars have critically interrogated this view for a long time and shown that the world post-9/11 is characterized as much by co­ hesion as by transformation. Thus even if the aftermath of September 11, 2001, initially fostered our sense ofhaving witnessed a radical break with the past, this binary perspective has been proved deceptive. The neat division between a world before and after 9/11 tends to reproduce in an inverted manner the world view projected by the Bush administration - a view that allowed legitimizing sweeping changes in domestic policy, violations of international conventions, and the...

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