The New Geopolitics of Fear



This century, linked to a series of geopolitical events and phenomena, an array of new fears have come to prominence. A number of academic and popular commentators have named and analysed these fears and predicted their reach and effects on people in western countries. However, these accounts have often lacked grounding in evidence that is mounting elsewhere on the everyday sites where emotions and geopolitics meet. This paper brings together a range of evidence from social research about western fears connected to the war on/of terror. First, through examining survey evidence since 2001, I suggest that fear of terrorism in the west tends to be overblown by commentators, and that fear close to the sites of terrorism should be viewed as exceptional rather than routinised or dispersed. Second, I explore a growing body of research that shows those most affected by fear in the current geopolitical climate are marginalised minority groups. Finally, I identify recent writing on alternative geopolitics which points to some original and hopeful directions for conceptual and empirical work on fear.