Date of Award
Master of Arts in Communication Studies
What happens to our perceptions when provided with an invitation by news media, specifically print media, to accept what is presented as reality? Does what we read in the news media constrict our thinking and create an acceptance of the words as they are written, a type of cultural blindness to the qualities, the humanness and individuality of other cultures? Or, do we read the words on the paper and open our lens to create a greater understanding of individuals who differ from us in values, attitudes and beliefs? The truth is the same stories which provide us with an opportunity to learn about other cultures, also invite us to forge a definition of the "other" or an "us" and ''them" society.
The purpose of this study is to demonstrate how news articles published by the New York Times which (re)present Iraqi citizens and culture, invite American news consumers to totalize and perceive Iraqi's and their culture as the "other." Grounded in Stuart Hall's work in representation of the "other," I will specifically demonstrate how articles which discuss life in Iraq as tribal support a rhetorically constructed vision of Iraqis and their culture as primitive, irrational and violent. It examines how these articles limit the culture and individual's identity to religious or ethnic affiliations such as Sunni, Shiite, Muslim, Kurd, and Arab and how this provokes a totalizing view and image of Iraq and Iraqis which negates individual identity.
We are at the crossroads of rhetorical constructed identities. No other time in history have the press been engaged in such an intimate relationship in a war theatre than with the events during the Iraq invasion and occupation. This new relationship provides the opportunity for unique perspectives and perceptions and will change how historical facts are recorded. Many articles discuss intimate numbers of casualties. Often those same articles which discuss the death of a single individual identify the person who lost their life as a Sunni , Shiite , Kurd or Muslim. The person could be male, female, a child, a college student, a mother, father, or civilian yet, their identity in death is limited to tribal or religious affiliation. The individual becomes a casualty with a generic identity.
This is a study in the media's representation Iraqi citizens during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It addresses the issues and provides evidence of the negative connotative rhetorical construction of tribal life in Iraq as published by the New York Times. This principle invites the consumer to totalize and develop an "us" and ''them" society via a rhetorical construction of an Iraqi "other."
L'Heureux, Joyce, "Whose Identity is it Anyway? A Study of the Media's Representation of Iraq Citizens and Their Culture" (2010). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 1797.