Monday, February 26, 2018 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Morrill Hall, 404
This talk draws from the forthcoming book, Icons of Dissent: The Global Resonance of Che Guevara, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, and Osama bin Laden (Oxford University Press), to trace divergent uses of Osama bin Laden’s image. After September 11, Bin Laden became an ever-present and highly contentious iconic figure. In the West, his image was a focal point for collective anger, and popular emphasis on Bin Laden often unwittingly reduced the threat of international terrorism to his image alone. In many other world regions, notably West Africa, East Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, popular interpretations of Bin Laden also contributed to alternative uses. For instance, as a reference to events of global significance, Bin Laden’s image appeared on a range of everyday consumer items. Additionally, some young people in Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, Malaysia, and elsewhere employed his image to represent subversive political stances. Yet, those who utilized Bin Laden iconography often uncoupled his image from his ideology and rhetoric, harnessing it as a simultaneously local and transnational symbol for multifaceted discontent. Thus, much like earlier global icons of dissent, Bin Laden became a figure onto which diverse audiences projected myriad anxieties and grievances.
Jeremy Prestholdt is a Professor of History at the University of California San Diego