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Ayatollah Khomeini: The changing face of Islam

Author(s): Rob Leurs

Journal: Estudos em Comunicação
ISSN 1646-4974

Volume: 12;
Start page: 25;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Ayatollah Khomeini | Chantalle Mouffe | cultural studies | discourse theory | Ernesto Laclau | media studies.

In cultural studies discourse theory is often used. Remarkably, the politically oriented work of Laclau & Mouffe has hardly been used whilst it is extremely useful for researching culture: Laclau & Mouffe can indeed be helpful to research media, conflict, and identity (politics).Their discourse theory (and that of others) can be seen as a ‘toolbox’ that can be combined with qualitative research methods. I agree with the concept of the ‘toolbox’ but argue that the complexity of combining Laclau & Mouffe with other research methods and theories within cultural studies requires the formulation of the conditions under which this is possible. I shall discuss these conditions andexpand on the relationship between Laclau and Mouffe and cultural studies research. I do so by analysing the representation of Ayatollah Khomeini in Western television news from 1978 through 1989.In Western eyes Khomeini is a powerful even threatening individual: in his rational treatment he appears to have control of irrationality (in the form of ‘irrational’ masses). And irrationality is somethingthat in Western culture is experienced as very threatening. Khomeini has, in Western perspective, the power over threatening irrationality. And that makes him all the more terrifying: he is represented as an ’antagonist’ of great proportion because he is able to both unleash and master the irrational.
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