Policing Narratives and the State of Terror

By Robin Truth Goodman

Subjects: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, Business And Government, Political Economy, International Business
Paperback : 9781438429045, 219 pages, July 2010
Hardcover : 9781438429038, 219 pages, November 2009

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Table of contents


1. They Came Back to Baghdad
2.From the Feminist Detective to the Security State Hero: Division of Labor and the State of Exception
3. Terrorist Hunter: Walter Mosley, the Urban Plot, and the Terror War
4. The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw
5. Military Literati: Yasmina Khadra and the Veil
Works Cited

Examines the recent “War on Terror” and the increasing privatization of international policing through the lens of detective fiction and security and espionage narratives.


Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, world politics have increasingly mirrored plots of detective novels, with high-profile criminal investigations that cross multiple borders and the internationalized law enforcement practices associated with the "War on Terror." Policing Narratives and the State of Terror examines the relationship between domestic policing and international policy through an analysis of contemporary popular detective fiction, police procedurals, police autobiography, security reports, and chronicles of domestic spying. Robin Truth Goodman connects these accounts of policing to the changing shape of the contemporary nation-state, marked by the denationalization of labor; commercial and criminal laws that jump borders more quickly than civil law protections; and the replacement of legal precedent by unrepeatable, exceptional executive decisions. Working at the intersection of literature, international law, and globalized commerce, Goodman astutely pinpoints how policing has become an increasingly troublesome instrument of empire, particularly in terms of national sovereignty and the growing numbers of mercenary private security forces.

Robin Truth Goodman is Associate Professor of English at Florida State University. She is the author of World, Class, Women: Global Literature, Education, and Feminism; Infertilities: Exploring Fictions of Barren Bodies; and (with Kenneth J. Saltman) Strange Love: Or How We Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Market.


"…Goodman's incisive observations on contemporary sovereignty, privacy, and neoliberalism in the age of terror make this book an important intervention in ongoing political-theoretical debates." — Theory & Event

"In this timely book, Goodman examines contemporary US history (since 9/11) through literature dealing with police and crime detection … The study is theoretically sophisticated and intellectually challenging in its analysis of literature, geopolitics, and feminism." — CHOICE