Trigger warning: This project contains violent images and other content that may be disturbing.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines terrorism, in its most common contemporary usage, as "[t]he unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims; (originally) such practices used by a government or ruling group (frequently through paramilitary or informal armed groups) in order to maintain its control over a population; (now usually) such practices used by a clandestine or expatriate organization as a means of furthering its aims. Cf. terrorist n. 1b[,]" (OED). In short, terrorism is most widely understood as the use of violence by a government or group, as a means of intimidation for the furthering of ideological or political aims. An inextricable element in the intimidation strategies of contemporary terrorism is mass media.

Since September 11, 2001, the global mass media spectacle of terrorism has become a dominant factor in global militarism, international human rights legislation, laws governing individual rights and state security, and the foreign and domestic policies of nations all over the world. Today, terrorism happens in mass media. Indeed, the symbolic violence of the media event of terrorism is, in many ways, now far more powerful and impactful than the actual physical violence done to buildings and people during terrorist attacks.

While contemporary Canadian media depictions have largely centred on so-called "Jihadist" terrorism, this myopic focus on a stereotype of Arab-Muslim culture has arguably contributed to racist attitudes, religious bigotry (such as Islamophobia), a rise in radicalization, widespread misunderstanding between cultural groups within Canada, as well as a lack of recognition of other serious terrorist threats within the Canadian  and North  American contexts, such as misogynist terrorism, white supremacist terrorism, and anti-LGBTQ terrorism.

This collaborative online project archives and interrogates contemporary Canadian mass media representations of terrorism and “the terrorist other” in a range of different types and sources of Canadian media, such as Canadian journalistic media, cinema, television, radio, video games, social media, and multi-media art. The aim of the project is to improve media literacy about representations of terrorism and terrorists in Canadian media, and to encourage a better understanding of why these images and messages are such powerful influences on Canadian audiences, government policy, and on the proliferation of terrorism and militarism across the globe.  Other aims of the project are to feature scholarly materials on these topics, collaborate with other digital humanities projects and online archives, and to foster and encourage community outreach, engagement, and education. Such collaborations and partnerships are necessary for addressing the multitude of different issues and stakeholders implicated in contemporary terrorism discourse, and for unpacking the complex and often contradictory ways in which the issues of radicalization, Islamophobia, neo-colonialism, cultural stereotyping, and a wide range of different types of contemporary terrorism--against women, racial minorities, LGBTQ groups, and other targets--are imbricated with, and often mis- or under-represented within, contemporary Canadian mass media depictions of terrorism and "the terrorist other."

If you have any questions or comments about the project, or if you are interested in contributing to it in some way, please email us at terrorizingmedia@gmail.com.

Director:  Dr. Don Moore

Project Manager: Megan Hutchison