8 Pages

Revisiting the Classics Dissolving Discourses of Terrorism

WithRepresentations of Political Violence in the Pre-9/11 World University of Oviedo, Spain

Terror and Taboo: The Follies, Fables and Faces of Terrorism. Joseba Zulaika and William A. Douglass. London & New York: Routledge, 1996. xi+292 pp. ISBN 0-415-91759-X, $39.95. In their introduction to Terror and Taboo: The Follies, Fables and Faces of Terrorism, Joseba Zulaika and William A. Douglass express bafflement and scepticism over the use and abuse of the discourse of terrorism by media groups, institutions and governments. The authors, both specialists on the topic of Basque terrorism, have devoted a great deal of their academic writing to the study of terrorism in general, and Basque militancy in particular. In this book, they attempt to unravel the political and academic debates surrounding the concept of terrorism as well as its coverage in the media. They state: “After many years of writing on the issues of political violence, our misgivings about the intellectual and moral values of the concept of terrorism have only increased” (p. ix). They argue that the many discourses surrounding the term ‘terrorism’ need to be subverted in order to destroy their validity. There is a need to differentiate, they insist, “between real violence and imaginary terror”, between “real combat and ritual bluff” (p. xi). This distinction, however, is applied rather unevenly throughout the book.