Fear, feminist geopolitics and the hot and banal

Jenna Christian, Lorraine Dowler, Dana Cuomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


In this paper we bring together Billig's notion of banal nationalism and recent feminist geopolitical examinations of fear in order to analyze two cases studies of fear among U.S. college students and U.S. soldiers experiencing sexual violence. Putting banal nationalism and feminist geopolitics into conversation, we argue, reveals both their compatibilities and important pathways for political geography and critical geopolitics to build on Billig's work. In this regard, the paper makes three key contributions. First, we demonstrate how the insights and imperatives of banal nationalism intertwine in critical ways with the work of feminist geographers, as the banal is often rendered feminine and apolitical and as gender itself is often treated as banal despite its role in the reproduction of the nation. Second, we argue that the multi-scalar analytic of feminist geopolitics offers a valuable intervention into banal nationalism, as relational feminist approaches to binaries like intimate/global provide a useful model to account for hot and banal nationalism as a single, intertwining complex. Finally, through an analysis of fear in relation to sexual violence, the paper illustrates both the inseparability of banal and hot nationalism and how they are deeply gendered, as certain forms of deeply hot violence and fear are depoliticized through their banalization (e.g. sexual assault on college campuses), and as violence that is recognized as hot (e.g. war) is maintained through processes that are deemed banal (e.g. gender).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-72
Number of pages9
JournalPolitical Geography
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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