The Politics of Post-Trauma Emotions: Securing Community after the Bali Bombing

Author/s (editor/s):

Emma Hutchison

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

Find this publication at:
IR Working Paper 2008/4 (PDF, 233KB)

Emma Hutchison, ‘The Politics of Post-Trauma Emotions: Securing Community after the Bali Bombing’, IR Working Paper 2008/4, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Affairs, The Australian National University, December 2008.

This paper examines how traumatic events can influence the constitution of identity and community in international relations. It demonstrates that emotions are central to how individuals and societies experience and work through the legacy of catastrophe. Often neglected in scholarly analysis of international relations, emotions can become pivotal sites for the renewal of political stability and social control. Key to this process are practices of representation. They provide individual experiences of trauma with a collective and often international dimension. They often smooth over feelings of shock and terror and unite individuals in a spirit of shared experience and mutual understanding. The paper illustrates the ensuing dynamics by examining the media’s portrayal of the Bali bombing of 12 October 2002. Focusing on photographs and the stories that accompany them, the paper shows how representations of trauma may provide a sense of collective solace that can, in turn, underwrite the emotional dynamics of a political community.

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