From Virgin Land to Ground Zero: The Mythological Foundations of the Homeland Security State

Donald Pease

in America and the Misshaping of a New World Order

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780520098701
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943797 | DOI:
From Virgin Land to Ground Zero: The Mythological Foundations of the Homeland Security State

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This chapter attempts to interpret the narrative that has emerged in the wake of the events that took place on September 11, 2001. “Virgin Land” refers to a governing metaphor, which has anchored the people's grounding assumption that underscored the myth of U.S. exceptionalism. “Ground Zero” designates the site that became visible on September 11, 2001, whereon those grounding assumptions were drastically transformed. The state's powers of governance have depended in part upon its recourse to master fictions that transmit a normative system of values and beliefs from generation to generation. But the catastrophic events that took place at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon precipitated a “reality” that the national metanarratives could neither comprehend nor master. The foreign violation of Virgin Land had alienated the Americans from their imaginary way of life. This chapter also elaborates the attempts made by the Bush administration to displace the loss of belief in Virgin Land with arrogation of power to defend the Homeland, producing an ideological shift from a secure innocent nation to a wounded, insecure emergency state.

Keywords: Virgin Land; Ground Zero; World Trade Center; foreign violation; ideological shift

Chapter.  8636 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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