A critical geography of the Homeland Security Advisory System (2002-2011)

Philip Kirby

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This research offers a critical geography of the terrorist warning system developed in the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). The HSAS was implemented by the Office (later Department) of Homeland Security, with five colour-coded threat levels that fluctuated according to the threat from terrorism that the United States was deemed to be facing. In particular, the research looks at how the System precipitated certain practices, geographically differentiated; lent itself to satirical readings by commentators such as Jon Stewart; and affected, or did not affect, electoral support for President George W. Bush. The thesis follows a narrative arc in the style of a traditional, yet critical biography, providing an overview of the HSAS and its civil defence lineage, cross-referenced with more thematic considerations, and ending with an analysis of how the HSAS was ultimately dissolved. It is the thesis’ suggestion that the ways that the HSAS operated and informed were distinctly geopolitical, and that it can be used to reflect upon recent theoretical engagements with the ‘war on terror’ and homeland security to demonstrate how some of these might be productively nuanced.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
Award date1 Feb 2014
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013

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