Identity and Difference in the American War on Terror

224 pages

7 halftones

April, 2018

ISBN: 9781479870332



Add to Cart Available: 3/16/2018

Also available in


Media Studies

Part of the Critical Cultural Communication series


Piotr Szpunar is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University at Albany, SUNY.

All books by Piotr M. Szpunar

An insightful study of how Americans grapple with identity, citizenship, and belonging in the face of homegrown terrorism 

“You are either with us, or against us” is the refrain that captures the spirit of the global war on terror. Indeed, most Americans think of enemies – and most recently terrorists – as foreign “others” with a distinct identity from ‘us.’ However, in this book, Piotr Szpunar tells the story of a gray area: homegrown terrorism—Americans, both residents and citizens, who have taken up arms against their own country.  

Homegrown delves into the dynamics of domestic terrorism, revealing the complications that arise when the one who threatens us is no longer distinguishable from an ordinary citizen, but rather a foe that blends into the crowd, looking, talking, and acting “like us.” Szpunar examines the ways in which identities are blurred in the war on terror, amid debates concerning who is “the real terrorist.” He considers historical examples, such as the Red Scare, as well as recent terrorist cases ranging from the Times Square car bomber, who was a naturalized citizen, to The Newburgh Four, ex-convicts who attempted to take down military planes, to The Tsarnaev brothers, naturalized Kyrgyzstani-American citizens who were responsible for the Boston marathon bombing.  

Drawing on popular media coverage, as well as “terrorist”-produced media, Szpunar poses new questions about how we think about identity in times of conflict. The book argues that the way in which we think about homegrown terrorism can challenge meanings of identity and difference and—more importantly—that our understanding of these concepts has real social, cultural, and political consequences. The first critical examination of homegrown terrorism, this book will make you question how we make sense of the actions of others and how we instinctively, and un-intentionally, categorize “them”.