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About borderlands VOLUME 10 NUMBER 3, 2011

Terror as Terror

The return of fear and horror?

Mikkel Thorup
University of Aarhus Denmark

This article surveys contemporary conceptualizations of terror, arguing that we are witnessing a return of terror’s original meaning as basically inexplicable, silent violence, perceived as attacking us without warning and without reason. Situating this conceptual and perceptual change in its historical context, the article explores what it does with our comprehension of violence when one of its defining features becomes its incomprehensibility. I argue that violence in modernity had been supposed to have voice and to give reasons. It was understood as horrible but not as inexplicable, pure horror. It was basically understandable, even if we agreed with neither the reasons nor the actions. Now, a new conceptualization of violence seems to be emerging, one that is defined in opposition to voice and reason, and whose defining feature is its silence.

The full article is available as a PDF document: click here.

© borderlands ejournal 2011



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ISSN 1447-0810