Risky subjects in time of terror. A semiotic perspective on the security discourse in Europe

by Daniele Salerno

in Versus n. 123, Temi semiotici /Semiotic Themes: Ripensare alcune categorie chiave della semiotica, pp.363-384

Abstract (english)

This article offers a semiotic analysis of the discourse of security and threat in Europe. First, it singles out some semiotic features of security discourse, in terms of polemic structure, temporality and modalities of existence. These dimensions will be tested in the analysis of narratives that group together different issues – in particular terrorism, migrations, and cultural diversity – with the constitution of a continuum of risk that defines such issues as security problems. Two case studies will be analysed: the official UK counterterrorism strategy, as described in the CONTEST document, and satirical cartoons on migrants and European citizens of Muslim faith (the Jyllands-Posten and Charlie Hebdo cartoons). The aim is to unpack and articulate such narratives in their different dimensions, opening up a semiotic reflection to be located within the research on critical approaches to security and the semiotics of culture.