Resilience and Resilient in Obama’s National Security Strategy 2010: Enter two ‘political keywords’
Selchow, Sabine (2016). Resilience and resilient in Obama’s National Security Strategy 2010: Enter two ‘political keywords’. Politics, Epub before print 26 January. Read online
Abstract: Under US President Obama, the words resilience and resilient have been applied beyond the odd occasion in the National Security Strategy (NSS) document. Through a systematic analysis of the NSS 2010, the research behind this article sought to determine if there was anything in this linguistic phenomenon of interest to scholars in political studies. The article argues that what makes the appearance of the two words in the NSS 2010 relevant is not what these words do but what is done to them in the text. It shows how the document constructs resilience and resilient in a distinct way as symbolic tools with a high degree of semantic openness, a particular positive connotation and deontic meaning. The article argues that the use of the two words in the NSS 2010 can be seen as an exercise in ‘occupying’ them with ideologically loaded meanings, which can be interpreted as the actualisation of both words as ‘political keywords’. The article demonstrates the relevance of this insight for political scholars as the ground for future explorations of the popular discourse of ‘resilience’ through the concept of ‘political keywords’.