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Schmitt’s Telluric Partisan in American Entertainment Media: Fantasies of Resistance and Territorial Defense

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JournalMillennium: Journal of International Studies
DateAccepted/In press - 17 May 2017
Original languageEnglish


This article explores the political significance of the narratives of partisan warfare that appear in American popular culture. I draw on Carl Schmitt’s concept of the ‘telluric partisan’ – a figure that fights outside the normative boundaries of conventional war in defense of a homeland and the traditional identities that are rooted in it. These fantasies provide a sense of moral clarity, promote national unity, characterize enemy aggression, and glorify traditional values. They establish a readymade narrative that can be invoked to frame conflicts in terms of the heroic defense of an innocent and victimized people protecting themselves against foreigners and their dangerous ideologies. As I show, this call for popular engagement in war generally serves a conservative project of directing potentially revolutionary expressions of populism and vigilante justice into defense of family and the territorial status quo.

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