Discourses of Democracy: An Analysis of Letters in The Australian on the September 11 Attack and the Tampa Refugees

Debbie Rodan & Jane Mummery

Pub Talk

Thursdays at the Fremantle Hotel, corner Cliff & High Streets
Presentations start 6.30pm sharp.

25 July 2002


This paper is an analysis of the letters to the editor in The Australian for the period of the 11th September to the 3rd December 2001. Over the period, we have found that discussion of current events - specifically the September 11 terrorist attack, the refugee 'crisis' and the 'war on terror' coalesces around two major discourses, specifically that concerning the protection of 'our' way of life, and that of global humanitarianism. On analysis of these discourses, with reference to the work of Jean-François Lyotard, we have found that they are fundamentally incommensurable, in fact giving rise to a differend. Further we will argue here that the differend arises because each of these two major discourses used in the discussion of these events is driven by a different understanding of democracy.

Dr Debbie Rodan
Media Studies
Edith Cowan University

Dr Jane Mummery
School of Arts
Murdoch University

Pub Talk | 2002

New: 27 February, 2002 | Now: 7 May, 2015