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Blackness after 9/11: topographies of race and counter-terror at the 9/11 memorial museum

IdeologiesCountering Violent Extremism (CVE)


More than a decade after the murder of Trayvon Martin and the creation of the Black Lives Matter protest movement, extrajudicial killings have become all too commonplace in the post-9/11 landscape, mirroring two decades of racialised surveillance against Arab and Muslim populations in the name of counter-terrorism. This paper maps Blackness’ proximity to the U.S. nation-state amidst the emergence of 9/11 memory and the post-9/11 counter-terrorism imaginary. Paramount to the longest war in US history (2001–2021), for example, Black patriotism is a powerful product and purveyor of the military industrial complex’s Global War on Terror. Yet while Black heroism and sacrifice are deeply encoded within the post-9/11 imaginary at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center, the Global War on Terrorism has ushered in the re-racialisation of both Brown and Black communities, as well as the fantasy of a “post-racial” nation now firmly in ruin in the age of Trumpism and the alt-right. Analysing key artefacts and narrative scripts within the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, I argue that 9/11 memory and the Global War on Terrorism work in tandem to reproduce new/old geographies of “terror” and “threat”, investigating how Blackness has always been central to the racialised logics of counter-terrorism and state surveillance.

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