Hollywood and the ‘war on terror’: genre-geopolitics and ‘Jacksonianism’ in The Kingdom

S. Carter, Klaus Dodds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the popular geopolitics of Hollywood cinema in the years since the terror attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, on September 11, 2001. During this time there has been a surprisingly varied and wide-ranging output of mainstream US movies that take either 9/11, or the consequential ‘war on terror’, as their primary context. We look at one such film in particular, the 2007 film The Kingdom, directed by Peter Berg. Set in Saudi Arabia, the film centres around an FBI-led investigation into a terrorist attack on an American civilian compound. In discussing the narrative and discursive elements of the film, and their relationship to the geopolitics of the war on terror, we also seek to build on recent conceptual developments in popular geopolitics. In particular, we argue that a greater recognition and understanding of the visuality of the geopolitics of film is required. We do this in two main ways. First, we suggest that attention needs to be paid to how images in films are put together. Here we use the notion of montage to show how film produces imaginative maps of connectivity, which in this context bear relation to the production of a series of ‘extraterritorialities’ in the war on terror. Second, we contend that greater attention to the notion of genre (in this case the action-thriller) can provide productive forms of analysis. More specifically, we argue that the action-thriller genre has certain political tendencies, especially towards what has been termed Jacksonianism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-113
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • geopolitics
  • film
  • Hollywood
  • jacksonism

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