1st Edition

Unknowing the ‘War on Terror’ The Pleasures of Risk

By Tina Managhan Copyright 2020

    This book offers new insights into the excesses and uncanniness of the ‘War on Terror’ via an engagement with the pleasures of risk.

    Engaging with the unconscious, the excess, the uncanny and the spectacular dimensions of the ‘War on Terror’ – as made evident, for example, in the 2012 London Olympic Games and the 2013 manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers – leads this book to probe the so-called order of things that has made this war intelligible in both mainstream and critical approaches to Security Studies and International Relations. Specifically, this book brings to light and theorizes the obscene pleasures of the ‘War on Terror’ and its supplementary precautionary risk logic. Coming to grips with this (i.e., the pleasures of risk), ultimately via an engagement with critical psychoanalytic theory, leads this book to argue that we may be other than we think we are within critical International Relations (IR) traditions. Furthermore, albeit without discounting the madness, if not desolation, of the present (extending from the ‘War on Terror’ to the politics of Brexit and Donald Trump), it suggests there may be some relief in that yet.

    This book will be of much interest to students of critical terrorism studies, critical security studies, political theory and International Relations broadly.

    1. The ‘War on Terror’ is Weird: An Introduction

    2. We All Dreamed It: Troubling Precautionary Risk Logics

    3. ‘Precarious Euphoria’: Spectacle and the 2012 London Olympic Games

    4. The Thrill of the Hunt: Closing in on the Boston Marathon Bombers

    5. Traversing the Fantasy(ies): By Way of Conclusion


    Tina Managhan is Senior Lecturer in the Politics and International Relations Programme at Oxford Brookes University, U.K.

    'In this book, Managhan brilliantly challenges…the precautionary risk logic of counterterrorism and proposes an analysis of the pleasures of risk based on the works of Foucault, Lacan, Freud, Zizek, Baudrillard, and others,…[She makes] clear that if one want[s] to understand why the response to 9/11 was somewhat disproportionate, one should analyse what is lacking in politics, our desires and libidinal investments.'-- Anastassiya Yuchshenko, Independent Scholar

    '[I]n this present moment the book contributes to an ongoing critique of the complicated disavowal of ‘race’ and racism as constitutive forces in global politics plaguing the discipline of International Relations (IR)…Unknowing the War on Terror shows us how the precautionary risk logics literature evacuates the concept of risk from its racialized historical provenance and from its neo-colonial present…In my view, this is Managhan’s most powerful move not least because this point of departure allows her to develop a reinvigorated engagement with the idea of risk – via Foucault, Lacan and Zizek – and invites us to take race seriously when exploring the underside of the War on Terror and the manifold pleasures it has afforded those who have been living in it and with it.'-- Nadya Ali, University of Sussex, UK