Geography Compass

Geographies of Fear – the terror threat

by Fiona Ferbrache

Last week, fears escalated again in relation to the war on/of terror.  Two reports – one from Great Britain (see, BBC News Online) and one in France (Gordon, 2010) –  highlighted the rising terror threat in both countries; the former from dissident Irish republicans and the latter from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.  Yesterday, a trip to Toulouse airport revealed a visible armed-police presence inside the passenger terminal.  A little ethnographic research observed how their being there attracted the gaze and comments of passers-by, although whether they inspired a sense of safety or evoked apprehension remained to be seen.

‘Geographies of Fear’ (see, also ‘violent geographies’) have diversified in the last decade owing to geopolitical events and a range of ‘new’ fears associated with these phenomena.  Among them, research into fears connected to the war on/of terror, experienced in and by the western world, as explored by Pain (2010) in Geography Compass.  One of the main objectives of Pain’s article is to argue that fears near terrorism sites should be perceived as exceptional rather that routinised, as often represented in the media.  A second objective helps to illustrate who is most affected by fears of terrorism and Pain identities marginalised minority groups based on ethnicity, race or religion, thus providing an agenda for future research in this field.

Pain, R. (2010) The new geopolitics of fear. Geography Compass vol.4.3 pp.226-240

BBC News (Online) (2010) Irish terror threat rise worrying BBC News 24 25 September 2010

Gordon, S. (2010) France warned of ‘very real’ terror threat. Sky News (online) 22 September 2010

1 comment

  1. Pain’s article is good piece of research and is very close to reality. I am very astonished in my country that intelligence about terror strike does not lead to prevention and apprehensions of the persons who may do that act. But with hours or days, culprits the heinous and deplorable act are apprehended or encountered. Of course, sufferers are prime suspected community everywhere.
    But, I am a loss the agencies which are unable to prevent an untoward incident, becomes so intelligent in arresting the culprits. A country on one day exhorts a country to take strong action against the country to which act of terror is traced and the nation is ready for a destructive war, the other day the researchers of the motivating country publish an article telling that the enemy country has not only a larger stock of nuclear arsenal and a better delivery system also. I do not know how much fool the country that function as international police considers us. But be assured there are many takers of that country’s words here,
    In the west, it is not simply race, religion and culture rathers prejudice cultivated in the western mind over century against a particular religious community due to meeting defeat in field by that community many times. It is manifested in history several times. Napoleon of civilised Europe when conquered Egypt went sraight to a tomb and kicking the grave said, “Sala’ddin we have taken the revenge of the crusades”. This mindset in the west is manifest in different forms at present.
    Britishers are peculiar in that they have no magnanimity to accept defeat in any field a person or persons from the oriet who are readily branded eithe as of low caste or beast/barbarians. If large heartedness and atmosphere of understanding and mutual respect does not prevail in the west, that community would continue to suffer every where because in other parts of the world whatever comes from the west is correct, true, authentic and standard to be followed.

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