Donald E. Pease
Dartmouth College, USA
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The Uncanny Return of American Exceptionalism: Barack Obama v. The Tea Party Movement
Dedalus 19 (2015), pp. 35-54. Download PDF

This article shows how the fantasy of American exceptionality – an idea that recent approaches to transnational American Studies have consciously tried to avoid – seems to be a well-grounded concept increasingly used within public and political domains especially related to Homeland Security strategies. In particular, this essay suggests that the idea of “exception” was a powerful metaphorical and operative notion that reinforced the so-called ‘War on Terror’ and the ‘State of Exception’ inaugurated by George W. Bush after 2001. More crucially however, Pease investigates the tensions that oppose Barack Obama and the Tea Party movements, by exposing how the Tea Party program rests on a deliberate disavowal of knowledge and on fostering new parasitic anxieties over Obama’s administration. By emphasizing how the Tea Party has struggled to convert what was perceived as Obama’s potential of transformation and change into a fetishistic narrative that places him as a new terrorist and enemy of the state, this article further discusses how homeland security discourses and counter-discourses are closely intertwined with issues of race and biopolitics.