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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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Looking Beyond Ground Zero

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The Surprising Staying Power of U.S. Primacy On August 5, 2011, the rating agency Standard & Poor’s lowered its long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States from “AAA” to “AA+”. In the as­ sessment of the rating agency, American debt was out of control, and the grid- locked political system of the U.S. was not likely to produce a viable consoli­ dation plan anytime soon.1 For the first time in history, U.S. creditworthiness did not rank top. The downgrading became a symbol of the conventional wisdom of the day: the decline of the United States of America. American decline has been indeed one of the leitmotifs of the decade since September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks on the American homeland proved the vulnerability of the “hyperpower,”2 and the reactions of the Bush administration - most notably the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - underscored the fact that great military and economic power does not necessarily produce the desired political results. The human, political, and financial cost of these foreign entanglements had already weakened the United States when the financial crisis started to un­ fold in 2008. That same year Barack Obama won the presidency on the promise of “hope” and “change” - ample evidence that most Americans felt that their country was heading in the wrong direction. In the larger context of international relations and the U.S. role in world poli­ tics, political scientists and pundits picked up on the same theme. Books like Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World...

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