In this book I portray a world caught up in the middle of a narrative arms race, where the message of the political right has outflanked the message of the political left. It is a world where narratives used by the far right inch ever closer to those employed by right-wing extremists in the Muslim world.
Rather than dismiss the use of political narratives as a shallow tactic of the opposition, I promote their usefulness and outline a number of ways that liberal academics can retake the public discourse from the extremist opposition.
I also show how to use stories effectively to move the world away from extremism and toward social justice.
This book is about the ideological functions of master narratives that exist in Muslim societies and culture and how these narratives are exploited and employed specifically by Islamist extremists. We provide a detailed analysis of the historical origins, components, and manifestations of more than a dozen master narratives employed by extremists in their ideological rhetoric, propaganda videos, and public statements. The material presented in this book is based on the premise that narratives are powerful resources for defining cultures and framing actions, and it is particularly important to understand how they operate if we hope to understand and counter them. In other words, narratives are essential to understanding Islamist extremism in the “war of ideas.”
For additional information, please see the website created especially for the book. It includes examples, updated resources, and useful links. It is at: http://masternarratives.comops.org/
"Mandatory reading for all who conduct public diplomacy, those who study it, and those who feel its pervasive effects."
- John Arquilla,
U.S. Naval Postgraduate School
You may wonder, as we three editors of this volume often do, how otherwise ordinary American academics from the Communication field got involved in the so-labeled “Global War on Terror?” What caused us to move from the safety and relative security of our university-sculpted tenured lives into the ongoing conversations about combating ideological support for terrorism, the role of communication in public diplomacy, and other questions about this new “rugged terrain” of fear, danger, lies, death, and loathing? Here is the short version of what happened.
I am communication professor interested in politics, the arts, food, cars, and cultures. So perhaps it is no real surprise that my first blog is dedicated to ruminating about, if not fully answering the question: When Should We Speak?
Here’s a scenario. Let’s say you and your significant other are out for a pleasant drive and you see a sign advertising a British Classic Car Show. You are on Cape Cod, it is early October, warm enough for the windows to be open and the top down, and the colorful leaves are beginning to change the landscape from summer to fall. You park. You walk admire the vintage MGs, Triumphs, Jags, a superior Corniche, a few minis, and a truly odd all-mahogany boat-tailed low-rider custom built on an MGB frame, complete with full wheel covers. It is a pleasant day and a friendly crowd. Then this guy, who appears to be an otherwise ordinary white male in his mid-fifties, blurts out “Don’t get me started about politics! Don’t talk to me about the past eight years, either. Obama is a socialist. We’ve got to take back our country.” He winks, conspiratorially. “I’m a Tea Partier.” ... more