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    Captain America's Empire: Reflections on Identity, Popular Culture, and Post-9/11 GeopoliticsAuthor(s): Jason DittmerSource: Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 95, No. 3 (Sep., 2005), pp.626-643Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.on behalf of the Association of American GeographersStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3693960.

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    CaptainAmerica'smpire:Reflectionsn Identity,Popular ulture,ndPost-9/11eopoliticsJason ittmer

    DepartmentfGeologyndGeography,eorgiaouthernniversityThis rticlentroducesomic ooks s a mediumhroughhich ationaldentityndgeopoliticalcriptsrenarrated.his xtensionf he opulareopoliticsiteratureses he xamplef ost-11eptember001 "9/11")Captain mericaomic ooks o ntegratearioustrandsf heoryromoliticaleographyndthe tudyfnationalismobreak ew roundn he tudyf opularulture,dentity,ndgeopolitics.he rticleegins ithan introductionothe haracterfCaptain mericand discussionf he oleheplaysn therescalingfAmericandentitynd he nstitutionalizationf henation'symbolicpace. he articleontinuesy howinghow isual epresentationsfAmericanandscapesnCaptainmericaere riticaloconstructingeopolitical"realities."readingfpost-9/11ssuesf heCaptainmericaomic ook eveals nuanced ndultimatelyambiguouseopoliticalcripthatnterrogatesmerica'sost-9/11erritorialization.eyWords:opularulture,Americandentity,ationalism,ost-9/11olitics,aptainmerica.

    Scale,Hegemony,ndtheCultureWarsopular eopolitics,r theconstructionfscriptsthatmold ommonerceptionsfpoliticalvents(O Tuathail 992;Dalby1993; Sharp1993), skey o a full nderstandingf bothnationaldentitiesandglobal rders. ne ofthefundamentalssumptionsof heprimarylobal geo-graph"0 Tuathail 996),orinscriptionftheearth'surface,s the divisionftheworld ntodiscrete tates, ach one ostensiblynde-pendent, overeign,qual,andoccupied ya discreteculture rnation.Other cholars avequestionedheontologicalrimacyf uch tates ndnationsAnder-son1991;Agnew 994)and haveconcentratednhowbounded erritoriesnd identitiesreconstructedndpoliced Paasi1991,1996).Thedivisionf he nternationaloliticalystemntosovereigntates emains largelynchallengedremiseofpopular iscourse.ndeed, hallengeso theassump-tions fthe nternationalystemreseen as challengesto amoral eographyf xtrememportance:Bush in

    victorypeech fterhe first ulfWar]did not ustifywhyhenotion fnationhood as o mportant,orwhyitsprotectionemandedheultimate fsacrifices.eassumed hat his audiencewouldrealize hat a war,waged ynationsgainsthenation,which adsoughtto abolish nation,wasnecessaryo affirmhesacredprinciplefnationhood"Billig1995,2). As institu-tionalizedegions,tates rebestunderstoods an on-goingprocess f creatingnd maintainingerritorialpracticesnd deologies.aasidescribesheregion-for-mation rocessnfour arts,he econd art fwhichs

    the ttachmentf ymbolic eaningsoterritory,r thecreationf ymbolichape Paasi1991; uotations from2003,113):Boundariesenetratehe ocietynnumerousracticesnddiscourseshroughhichhe erritoryxistsnd chievesinstitutionalizedeanings.ence,t spolitical,conomic,cultural,overnmentalndotherractices,nd he sso-ciatedmeanings,hatmake territorynd oncomitantlyterritorializeverydayife. hese lementsecomeart fdailyifehroughpatialocialization,he rocessywhichpeoplere ocializedsmembersf erritorialroups.One way nwhich hesymbolic eaningssociatedwith heseboundaries aterializess throughhepro-duction nd consumptionf popular ulture,whichleads to the nternalizationf themythicndsymbolicaspects fnationaldentitiesEdwardson003).Popularculture,n otherwords,s one of theways n whichpeople ome ounderstandheir ositionothwithinlarger ollectivedentitynd within n evenbroader

    geopolitical arrative,r script.Marston nd Smith(2001) have made the pointthatcollectivedentityformationnvolves he negotiationfmanydifferentscales,ncludinghefull ontinuumromhe ndividual/body o theglobal/universal.hus, hehorizontalden-tityssues hat evolveroundheSelf/Otherexus ndother oundary-formationrocessesas explainedater)are nextricablyinkedhrougheopoliticalarrativesoverticalssues f cale.This s a criticalink hat nableshundredsfmillionsf ndividualsreelyo assumecommondentity.Annals f heAssociationfAmerican eographers,5(3), 2005,pp.626-643 ? 2005byAssociationf American eographers

    Initial ubmission,une 004;revisedubmission,ctober 004;final cceptance, ecember 004Published yBlackwell ublishing,50 MainStreet,Malden,MA 02148, nd 9600Garsingtonoad,Oxford X4 2DQ, U.K.

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    CaptainAmerica'smpire: eflectionsn Identity,opular ulture,ndPost-9/11eopolitics 627CaptainAmericas an example fpopular ulture'srole n thisprocess. ignificanto thisrole s CaptainAmerica'sbility o connectthe political rojects fAmericanationalism,nternalrder,ndforeignolicy(allformulatedt thenational rglobal cale)with hescale ofthe ndividual,r thebody. he character fCaptainAmerica onnects hese calesby iterallym-bodyingmericandentity,resentingor eaders heroboth f, ndfor,he nation. oungereadersmay venfantasize bout beingCaptainAmerica, onnectingthemselves o the nation n their maginations.ischaracterizations an explicitlymerican uperheroestablishesim s both representativefthe dealizedAmerican ation nd as a defenderftheAmericanstatusuo.This mage oincides ith hedefinitionfterritorialymbol,hat s,"abstractxpressionsfgroupsolidaritymbodyinghe actions fpolitical,conomic,andculturalnstitutionsn thecontinualeproductionand egitimationfthe ystemfpracticeshat harac-terize heterritorialnit oncerned"Paasi1991,245).CaptainAmerica nd other erritorialymbolsrompopularultureontributeo structuresfexpectations(Tannen 979),which anbe understoods a summa-tion fthe ocial ffectsfregionalnstitutionalization.These structuresredistinctromtructuresffeeling(R. Williams 977), whichfocuson practical,ivedconsciousness.ather,tructuresfexpectationsnflu-encehowpeople romregionnterpretewnformationorsituations.hus,geopoliticalvents re interpreted

    throughhe lens of structuresf expectations,ndso, common tructuresromoteommon eopoliticalscripts.hese criptsreattemptso create rder utofthecomplexityfglobal vents yconstructingarra-tives hrough hich heregion's lace n theworldsunderstandablend egitimate.hile criptsrederivedfrommanyources,nesourcewith ignificantnputscertainlyopularulture.The roleofpopularulturenconstructingeopolit-ical identitiesnd scripts as increasinglyecome hesubject f criticalnquirySharp1993, 1998; Dodds2003).At theheart fpopular ulture'smportanceothe construction f national and global geopoliticalscriptss AntonioGramsci's onceptofhegemony. e-gemony, he basis of strongnational government,spredicatedon consensus,as contrastedwithcoercion,whichGramsciperceives s the lastresort f weakgov-ernmentsAdamson 1980). WhileGramsciwaswritinginthecontext f a Marxist evolution, is deas resonatestrongly ithcapitalistformulationsf nationhoodaswell. Sharp (2000, 31) however, ses Gramsci's dea ofhegemony o insert space forpopularculture n theliteraturefnationalismnd identity:

    [H]egemonys constructedotonly hrougholiticalideologiesutalso,moremmediately,hroughetailedscriptingf ome f hemostrdinaryndmundanespectsof verydayife. ramsci'sonceptfhegemonyositssignificantlace or opularulturenany ttemptoun-derstandheworkingsf ocietyecausef he eryve-rydaynessndapparentlyonconflictualature f suchproductions.nypoliticalnalysisf theoperationfdominanceustake ull ccountf he ole fnstitutionsofpopularulturen the omplex ilieuhat nsureshereproductionf ulturaland hus olitical)orms.

    Gramsci'sonceptfhegemonys not tatic,ut nstead,"a process f continualreationhat, iventsmassivescale,sbound obeunevenn thedegreef egitimacytcommandsnd to leave some roomfor ntagonisticculturalxpressionsodevelop"Adamson 980,174).Thus,hegemoniconstructionsnd heirntagonistsreinneedof ontinualuttressingy ctive gents,nthiscase,theproducersfpopularulture.Comicbooks reoften quatedwith hildren'sn-tertainment,nd,historically,hey avebeen ssociatedwithnegativenfluencesuchas juvenile elinquency,perhapsmostfamouslyn Wertham'seductionftheInnocent1954). Nevertheless,heproducersfcomicbooks (and CaptainAmerica,pecifically)iew theirproductssmore hanust owbrowntertainment;heyview theirworks s opportunitieso educate nd so-cialize. n an interviewn National ublicRadio'sAllThingsonsidered2002), Captain mericaditor,xelAlonso,touched n thisviewamong heproductionstaff:[W]hat I'd say s ourresponsibilitys writers,artists,ditors ndcreatorss to createnarrativeshathavea point, hat ntertainndseek to do somethingmore, erhapsducate nsome evel."n this ense, heproductiontafffCaptainAmerica itGramsci's efi-nition forganicntellectuals:otdistinguisheds in-tellectualsytheir rofession,hesemen traditionally,the ndustryas beendominatedymales)nevertheless"work onsciouslyor heir wn ocial lass, onvincedthat it has a historicalright' t a givenmoment"(Lawner 973, 4).WhileGramsci as learlynterestedin economicclasses,here social class can also refer onationality,s bothare categories fbelonging hatre-quire active construction nd support.Thus, throughthemedium ftheir omicbook,thesemenhelpcreatestructures f expectations hat consequentlynfluencethe way readersview the worldand locate their ownplace as Americanswithin t.While they remoreem-powered hanordinaryitizens ecauseoftheir losenessto the publishingmedia, theyare still constrained ymarketprinciples,heirparentcompany's ditorialde-cisions, nd other imitingactors. till, he role ofthese

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    628 Dittmermennshapingublicttitudesasbecomehe ubjectof crutiny.Captain mericand theCultureWars

    If omic ooksuch sCaptainmericaeem oofa-cetiousndfantasticobeeducational,hatsunder-standable.any actorsead othe ocial enigrationfthe omic ookmedium,ncludingow roductional-ues comic ooks re till rintednpulp aper) ndunrealistictorylinesculminatingn battles etweentwo uperpoweredeings hohavefull onversationswhilenmelee). till,or he urposef hisrticle,hedivide etweenow,middle,ndhighbrowulturesartificial;llthree avepoliticalontentndthereforeare elevanto hose ho re eekingo culptmericanidentity.ndeed, he seeminglynnocent ature fthe omicookmediumontributeso ts ignificancenthebattle verAmericandentityecauset usuallyoperateseneathhegaze fmost ulturalritics.hisbattleverhemeaningfAmericaasbeen ermedhe"Culture ars"originallyy onservativeommentatorand occasionalresidentialandidate,atBuchanan),withartisansnboth idescanningopularultureorsubversiveessagesintentionalrotherwise)hat n-derminer hallengeheiravoredeopoliticalcriptrAmericandentity.ohn eyReiber,he uthorf heCaptainmericaomicsnalyzedatern hisrticle,adthis osay bout he mbiguous,et damant,eactionto hispost-11 eptember001 (hereinafter9/11")storylineNewsarama002): [T]he .. Captain mer-ica storyrc .. hasbeen alled ight-wing,eft-wing,jingoist,ommunist,nti-Americanndflag-waving."ofurtherllustratehe oliticalmportancef he ymbolfCaptainmerica,onsiderhe itlef n rticleavailableonline)nTheNationaleviewyradiohow ost ndfilmritic ichaelMedved2003): Captain merica,Traitor?he comic-bookerogoesanti-American."Medvedoncludeshe rticleywriting,Wemightxpectuch lame-Americaogic romolly-wood ctivists,cademicpologists,rthe ngryrotesterswho egularlyillhe treetsf uropeanapitalsandmanymajorAmericanities).Whensuchsentimentsurn p,however,iddenwithintar-spangled,ostalgicackagingof omic ooks imed tkids,weneed oconfronthedeepculturalmalaise fflictinghenation nthe ve ofwar.

    Clearly, he "culturewarriors"hathave dominatedAmerican oliticsincetheearly 990sarepayingt-tentionoCaptain merica;hey ave ttached oliticalsignificanceo its content,n partbecauseCaptainAmericas a characterhat s familiaroseveral ener-

    ations fAmericans.urthermore,hispoliticalignifi-cance smagnifiedy he mportancef omic ooks nAmerican outh ulture.Accordingo the SimmonsMarketResearchBureau'sStudy f Kids and Teens(2002),thenetyouthudienceages ixtoseventeen)ofthetwo argestomicbookpublishersMarvel ndDC) is almost ourteen illion.While t s mpossibleomeasurehe mpactf omic ooks nd imilar edia nthe political ttitudes f children nd youths, heynonetheless o participaten a recursiveelationshipbetween lites dvocating articulareopoliticalarra-tives ndthepopular eo-graphsistributedymedia obe consumedy hepublic. he impact fcomic ookson (geo)politicalttitudess heightenedecausetheyreach heir oung udience t thedevelopmental o-mentwhen ociospatialrameworksrebeing ormulated(Dijkink 996).Sciencefiction,hegenren which uperheroomicbooks uch s Captain mericaanmost roadlye lo-cated,hasbeentheobject frecentnalysisygeogra-phers. ciencefictionaleshave nterestedeographersbecauseof theirusefulnessn "exploringlternativegeographiesfpower nd socialrelations"Morehouse2002,84; see alsoKitchin nd Kneale2001 andWarf2002). Furthermore,eographyas lately dgedevercloser othe ubjectf omic ooks,ven othepoint fstudyingoliticalartoons. lausDodds 1998),for x-ample,has engagedn a critical nalysis f politicalcartoonistteveBell's work y ooking losely t thespatialitynd conographyfthe mages ellcreatednhiscritiquefthemid-1990sosnianWar. ndoing o,he has situated isworkwithinhe argerody f iter-aturen criticaleopolitics.s Dodds 1998, 171) says,"[I]n contrastotheexistingiteraturen iconographywithin ultural eography,ritical eopoliticsas notengagednclose nddetailedeadingsfvisualmaterial.Images ave ithereen mployedo llustrategeneralanalysisr usedoccasionallyo lluminatepecificssuessuch s mediawar eporting."his s n contrastootherdisciplines,incetherehave recentlyeenmany ca-demic tudies fcomicbooks nthefieldsf ociology,history,nd literaturee.g., Reynolds 992; Nyberg1998; Brooker2001; Klock 2002). HistorianRyanEd-wardson 2003) has even writtenbout "Captain Can-uck" and his role in Canadian nationalism. his workshouldbe seen, npart, s an extension fthese cholars'very inework.This article s divided nto threeparts, ach unitedwith heothers hroughheir se ofCaptainAmericatexts nd images oprovidensightnto theconstructionof American dentity. he articlebeginswith an intro-duction to the character of Captain America and a

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    CaptainAmerica'smpire: eflectionsn Identity,opular ulture,ndPost-9/11eopolitics 629discussion f the role he plays n the rescaling fAmericandentitynd the institutionalizationf thenation'symbolicpace ndcontinuesy ngaging iththeoriesf andscape,conography,ndnationalisme-forehowingheironnectionoCaptain mericaomicbooks.n thefinalection, readingfpost-9/11ssuesof heCaptain mericaomic ookwill eveal nuancedandultimatelymbiguouseopoliticalcripthat nter-rogates merica'sost-9/11erritorialization.DeconstructingheCaptain

    Itmay eem bvious hat aptainAmericasa symbolfor merica, et t s this bviousnesshatmakes im ouseful or tudy:The double eglectfbanalnationalismnvolvesca-demics orgettinghats routinelyorgotten.eoplenestablishedationsverlookheroutinelaggingfna-tionhood.heflagsmeltnto hebackground,s "our"particularorldsexperienceds theworld. heroutineabsent-mindedness,nvolvednnot oticingnwavedlagsorotherymbolsfnationhood,as tsreflectionnaca-demicheory. -(Billig1995, 9-50)Since CaptainAmerica s so clearly symbol fAmerica, e providesn opportunityo analyze hechangingmeaningnd symbolichapeofAmerica stheregions continuallyre) onstructed.f dentitysa performance,henAmericandentityas beenper-formedmonthlyince1964 n CaptainAmerica omicbooks.CaptainAmericawascreatedn 1940,prior otheentryftheUnited tates ntoWorldWar I, butafter hewarhadbeenongoingnEuropend EastAsiafor ometime.Timely omics laterMarvelComics)created hecharacternan attemptotap nto hepa-trioticonsciousnesshatwas awakeningn America(stealingheconcept ndplagiarizingarts f the uni-form rom rivalcompany'sharacter amed"TheShield";see Ro 2004). From ts beginning,aptainAmericaelped onstructn identityorAmericandageopolitical cript:It isthe pringf1941."Theruthless ar-mongersfEu-rope"havecasttheirightsn"a peace-lovingmerica,"and"theyouth fourcountry"eed "thecalltoarm ordefense." s foreigngents arryut"a waveof abotageandtreason"gainstheUnited tates, hepresidentu-thorizes top-secretlan.A patriotic oungAmericannamedSteveRogers, oo sicklyndweakto qualifyorstandardnlistment,olunteersor dangerouscientificexperimentonducted ythe nation's opscientist,ro-

    fessor einstein.njected ith strange,eethingiquid,Rogersndergoesstartlingransformation.rowingnheightndmass, ogers's usclesxpandnd ightenothepeak fhumanerfection.o longer frailatriot,he now as massivehysique,proudew ame,ndboldmission.henation'sewestsuper-soldier,"aptainAmerica,s born.-(Wright001, 0,who,n urn,uotesimonndKirby1941, -2)

    Thus,even nitsfirstssue,Captain mericaspartici-pating n the constructionf geopoliticalreality"throughtsdescriptionf heU.S.role n theworld. heinsider/outsiderialectic utlines global rderwith"war-mongering"urope nda "peace-loving"merica.Clearlydentifiedsa territorialymbolfAmericayhisred,white,ndbluestar-spangledniform,aptainAmericaspart fwhatRenan 1990,17)has called he"cult f theflag." illains ftenmockCaptainAmericaforhis uniform,hich s in fact vaguely idiculousdisplayf tars nd tripesompletedy pirate's lovesandboots nd, nexplicably,mallwingsnhisheadthatresemblehose nthe nkles f heRoman odMercury.Nevertheless,aptainAmerica'sriendsevermockhisoutfitr thinkt oddbecause othemt s in theback-ground-what illig1995,40) would allan"unwavedflag." nlyvillainswoulddareto question isfashionsense.ThatCaptainAmericas intendedo representtheAmericandeal annot e seen ssimplyecognitionofontologicalact, ut s instead truth laim boutAmerican-ness.tanLee,comicbook conandformerwriteror aptain merica,rgueshat aptainAmericarepresentshe best aspects fAmerica: ourage ndhonestypersonalorrespondenceith uthor004).Aproductfhistimes, owever,aptainAmerica'smageandoriginmirrorheAmericandentity/dreamf1941.Blonde-haired,lue-eyedteveRogerswith is lmostobsessively nglo-Americaname)overcomesisownphysicalweakness o becomea proud oldier orhiscountry.Althoughhe super-soldiererum"sresponsibleorhisphysique,he success fCaptainAmerican crimefightings clearly ttributedn the stories o his hardwork,an extensionof the Horatio Alger story ntothe worldof superheroes,where flyingnd smashingtanks come easily to dozens of costumed vigilantes(Macdonald and Macdonald 1976). Captain America'suniqueness omesfrom hefact hathe has fewer uperpowersthan almostanyother costumedhero; his realskills ie inhisathleticism nd his eadership kills Lee,personal ommunication ith uthor, February004).Indeed,CaptainAmerica omics re acedwith mages f

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    630 DittmertheCaptain racticingis crobatic aneuversr iftingweights.While the drugs ivento himby theU.S.governmentayhaveadvantagedis tart, iscontin-uedsuccesss scripteds attributableohiscontinuedhard work. n fact,a 1990s storylinead CaptainAmericaosethe uper-soldiererum,stensiblyecauseitwasoverloadingisbody;nreality,twas xplainedntheeditor's olumn hatthe creative eammadethedecision ecause f heunseemlymage f heAmericanidealbeing ooked n a performance-enhancingrug.Furthermore,aptainAmerica ontributeso theAmericaneopoliticalarrativeybeing ltimatelye-fensiven nature.ndeed, conceit ftheAmericangeopoliticalarratives thatAmerica nly cts n thenameofsecurity,otempire. rue o this orm,oungSteveRogersn 1940 s a reluctant arrior,utnotareluctant atriot Kirby1969, 9): "I hate war-andsenselessloodshed-butcan't tay ehind-whilethersdothefightingheremust esomethingcando-someplaceforme "After hispleagainshim ccessto the"super-soldiererum" hatgiveshimhisstrengthndquickness,aptainAmerica sprovided ith weaponunique mongomic ookheroes: shield. his ventsindicativefhisassociation ith heAmerican eopo-litical cript.Most superheroes ho use propscarryglamorousffensiveeapons;CaptainAmericahas arather nglamorousyetpatrioticallyolored)shield.While CaptainAmericahas becomequite good atthrowingisshield s an offensiveeapon andalwaysmanagingo have it bounceright ackto him), t isimportantorhenarrativefAmericahat eembodiesdefense ather han ffense.While the definitionf one particular mericanidentityndgeopoliticalarratives an impossibleaskdue to the crosscuttingurrents f political houghtandhuman xperiencehat nfluencepinion,here redefinitehemes unninghroughhediscourse.easley(2001) alludes o liberty,quality,ndself-governmentas thetenets fAmericanxceptionalism.hesequali-ties takemeaning nlywhen ontrastedgainst thernations Poole 1999), and so the Americanymbolicshape requires dominantgeopolitical cript o definetheAmerican ense ofplace and purpose n a complexworld.Americanexceptionalismhusalso becomes thetheme of the dominantgeopolitical cript,withJewettand Lawrence (2003, 34-35) providing n excellentexplanationof this linkagebetweensuperheroes, eo-politics, nd American xceptionalism:

    [T]he elaborate ffortt restraintn the use offorce-suppressingis own aggressivenstinct-places aptainAmerican theheroic raditionftheAmericanowboy

    killer,heman fpurelynnocentntentionhodrawssecondnthe un attleut hoots oreuicklynd c-curatelyhan hedastardlyoe.. In these nd ountlessotherxamples,uperheroesnd -heroinesxercisehepowerstherwiseeservednlyor od ndealingithvil.They re he ndividuatedmbodimentsf civil eligionthateeks oredeemheworldoremocracy,ut ymeansthat ranscendemocraticimitsn the xercisef ower.

    Indeed, hesense fbeing art f omethingxtraordi-nary,heAmerican ation,s nherento the torylinesofCaptain merica. he Captain'swillingnesso die forhis ountrywitnessednvirtuallyveryssue) einforcesthe centralityf the nation n the readershipf thecomic ook.As Anderson1991,144)says, Dying orone'scountry,hich sually ne does notchoose, s-sumes moralgrandeur hichdying or he LabourParty,he AmericanMedicalAssociation,r perhapsevenAmnestynternationalan notrival, or hese reall bodies ne can joinor leave at easywill."CaptainAmerica's illingnessodiefor is ountryllustratesheessential entralityf thenation o himand,byex-tension, o everyAmerican eading hecomicbook.Support or hegeopoliticalbjectivesfAmerican x-ceptionalismecomes nunderstood,acit xtensionfcitizenship.As ust llustrated,he mpactfCaptainAmericanreaderssdifferenthan therymbolsfAmerica,uchasthebald agle rtheflag,ecause fhis bilityoth oembodynd to narrate mericanways hatthe baldeagle, lag,nd otherymbolsannot. uchstatic, on-human ymbolsepresentndconstructhenation utdo not llow or personalonnectiono t nthe ameway hatCaptainAmerica oes.Paasi 2004, 542) haswritten bout this interconnectionetweenplace/boundariesnd scale: "Scales are not fixed,eparatelevelsof the social world ut, ikeregions/places,restructurednd nstitutionalizedncomplex aysnde/reterritorializingracticesnd discourseshatmaybepartlyoncrete,owerfulndbounded, utalsopartlyunbounded,ague r nvisible."

    CaptainAmerica erves s a cultural roduct hatvaguely nd invisiblyonnects he reader usuallyyoungand male,aspiringo heroism), hroughhebodyof thehero,to the scale of the nation.This bridgingfscale,from he ndividual odyto thebodypolitic,snecessaryfor he construction f a territoriallyoundedstate oc-cupiedbya cohesivenation.Paasi (2004, 542) reiteratesthis point: "The institutionalization/deinstitutionaliza-tion of region,place and scale are in fact nseparableelements n the perpetualprocessof regional ransfor-mation."Thus, it is not enoughto foster erritoriality

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    CaptainAmerica'smpire: eflectionsn Identity,opular ulture,ndPost-9/11eopolitics 631and nationaldentity;ndividuals,espite he abstractoriginsf collectivedentityndterritorys a politicalproject, ust nternalizehe cale f henation.We nowturn o theconstructionfthat dentityndterritory.CaptainAmerica nd theOther

    CaptainAmerica erves s a territorialymbolhatparticipatesn the constructionf differenceetweenone regiontheUnited tates) ndother egionstherest f theworld). erekGregory2004, 17) illustratesthe roleoffictionnshapinghisFoucaldian rderm-posed on our worldviewshrough is discussion fimaginativeeographiesa term riginallyoinedbyEdward aid):"Their"pacesofteneen s the nversef our"pace:sort fnegative,n thephotographicense hat they"mightdevelop"ntoomethingike us," ut lso he iteof n bsence,ecausethey"re een omehowo ack hepositiveonalitieshat upposedlyistinguishus." Wemighthink f maginativeeographiess fabrications,word hat sefullyombinessomethingictionalized"nd"somethingadereal," ecause hey reimaginationsgivenubstance.

    The effectsf maginativeeographiesre not nsignifi-cant,npart ecause heyreperformative;hey utlinea framehroughhich heworld an beviewed, hichthenenablesthe reader or viewer r consumer)oadopt hat ramend act basedon it.To understandhesymbolicnd dichotomousela-tionship etweenCaptainAmerica/U.S./Selfnd theSupervillain/Georival/Other,ttention ust e paidtothehistoryf theCaptainAmerica con tself. aptainAmericaepresentsdifferentype fAmericandentitythanSuperman, ho, s an alien come to earth, m-bodies heultimate mericanmmigrant-thether-who s,nevertheless,illingofightor truth,ustice,andtheAmerican ay."uperman'storyf riginstheidealAmericanmmigrantarrative, ith n outsider(or Other)whoadopts new homeland ndfullys-similates, appily bandoning ny previous ulture(Gordon1998); instead,CaptainAmerica'snarrative forigin s a 1941 nativist antasy f ndividualist atriot-ism,withCaptainAmerica's and thus,America's)val-ues contrasted gainsthis un-American thers.The Captain,as a product f the Americanmilitary-industrialomplex, egins s a tool of the establishmentand a proxy orAmerican oreignolicy.n his firstssue,when a Nazi saboteurassassinatesthe creator of the"super-soldiererum" Dr. Reinstein, n obvious allu-sion to Albert Einstein), Captain America captures

    the murderernd treats he reader o an imageofthe Captainburstingnto a room n Germanynddecking itlerfeaturedn the over; eeFigure ) ninemonths efore earlHarbor ndtheAmericanntryntoWWII. In 1949,afteratchingaboteursndspiesonthehomefrontndfightinglongside mericanroopsinEuropendthePacificseeFigure ) untilWWIIwascompletelyinished,aptain mericaomics olded.hetitlewas revivedn the 1950s and billed s "CaptainAmerica .. Commie masher "n an efforto feedsymbioticallyn thegeopoliticalarrativef thenewCold War seeFigure). Thisrun f he eries asbrief,perhaps ecause t did not effectivelyngage n thatnarrative.The series ffered o furtheriscussion fCold War ssues eyondhemessagehatCommunistswere vil, verweight,ndpoordressers"Wright001,123).The third,nd still ngoing,ncarnationfCaptainAmerica egan n 1964with aptainAmerica's evivalaftereing ound rozenna North tlanticceberginceWorldWar I. Interestingly,his ffectivelyisavowedXX's::X X . ................ ... ..... . .................. ........................................................... ........ ........................ ......... ............................................................... ........... ........... N.................... .......e .................?i . ...........................A . ...'o.....x:g opQ ... .....V. Z?; . . .. ..........4111L ?X:.........1vj:: mx;XX f11A al'so................... A. ........?:z:;X.....................Pik F...................Figure. ThefirstisualeferenceoCaptain merica-theoverofCaptainmericaomics 1:TheCaptaincts ut heAmericangeopoliticalantasyinemonthsrioroPearl arbor.everalarlycovers ould eatureaptain mericaeckingitler.

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    632 Dittmer

    ..................... ..................... ...........

    ..............

    ................

    Figure. The overf aptainmericaomics 3. ikemuchfAmericanropagandanWWII, aptainmericaortrayedheJapaneses subhuman.the Commie masher" ra ofCaptainAmerica, hichneverhappened incehe was frozenn an iceberg."Commie masher" aptainAmericawas,yearsater,revealed o be an imposter.hisdisavowaleflectedhechangingoliticallimatefpost-McCarthymerica,nwhichMcCarthyitemericanismasdeemedobefalsepatriotism.ndeed, tanLee, the writer hobroughtbackCaptainAmericanthe1960s, assaid, egardingtheproduction rocess, hat everythinghat s hap-peningt the ime storys writtenas aneffectn thatstory,hethern obvious ffectr a subliminalne. We[creativetaff]re all influencednd affectedytheevents ftheworld round s at anygiven ime" per-sonal orrespondence004).The 1960swere difficulttime to writeCaptainAmerica. s AmericabecameembroiledntheVietnamWar, aptainAmerica'sole sthe mbodimentfAmerican alues uthim quarelynthemiddle fthepoliticsfthe time.With heAmeri-canpeople orn etweenompetingeopoliticalcripts,therewaspressureothfor ndagainst aptainAmer-ica's interventionn the war n Vietnam. s the war

    ........... 0..

    ..........will:a ...................

    Figure. The overfCaptainmerica76. uringhe 950s,CaptainAmerica attled ifth olumnistsnd Communistabo-teurs nder he title CaptainAmerica.. Commie masher "ground n, it became clearthat themajorityf thereadership antedCaptainAmerica o remainn theUnited tates, nd,for he mostpart,he did (Wright2001).Inthe1970s, aptain mericaontinuedofollowheissuesof the times n which t was written,attlingagainst overty,acism,ndpollution.hesplinteringfthe myth f Americanhomogeneitys documentedthroughouthe ssues fthe1970s, sCaptainAmericapartneredith nAfrican mericanocialworkerTheFalcon) and dated a feminist.aptainAmericade-scribed his ragmentationf Americandentityn thepages f he omic ook Englehartnd Buscema 974,17): "Americansavemany oals, omeof them uitecontraryo others.n the andofthefree,ach ofus sableto do whathewants odo,think hathe wants othink. hat's as it should e,but t makes or greatmanydifferentersions f whatAmerica s." In the1980s,CaptainAmerica ontinued ispathofpolitical

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    CaptainAmerica'smpire: eflectionsn Identity,opular ulture,ndPost-9/11eopolitics 633awakeninghatbegan n the 1960s. PressuredytheAmericanovernmentosubmito ts rders,she hadsubmittedn the1940s, teveRogers aveuptheuni-form ndfoughtrime s an independentigilantehisnewname, Nomad," eflectedisplacelessness)eforelater oming ack to the uniformnd title fter gov-ernmentpology.hisepisode ffirmedhathadbeenimplicitince heCaptain's eturnn 1964:hewas,de-spite isgovernmentrigins,ruggedndividualist.venwhenhepursued mericanoreignolicy oals, e wasnotdirectlyffiliatedith heAmericanovernment.The preceding iscussion as brieflyutlined hecharacterndhistoryfCaptainAmerica ith purposeof onnectinghis ictionalersono the argeronstructof Americandentity.t shouldbe clear thatCaptainAmericas more hanust nartifactf ntertainmentorchildren ndyoungdults.nstead,t is a truthlaimregardinghe haracteristicshat efine mericagainsta backdropf therness.aptainAmericaandthus,heAmericandeal) spatriotic ithouteing governmentstooge; e is a self-made,uggedndividualistho stillcares bouthiscommunityndnation; e iswillingostand pforwhathebelieves ut sultimatelyefensiveof he tatusuo.Furthermore,lthoughe swhite ndmale,he is increasinglywarethatAmerica s muchmorediverse.Whileremainingomewhatne-dimen-sional uringhe1940s nd1950s, aptainAmerica asbecome dynamicharacterver he astfour ecades,changingntime othe hiftingoliticsf hequestion,what oes"America" ean?

    PopularCulture, andscapes, ndNationalIdentityTerritorialifferentiationndBonding

    Herb 2004)argueshat he ontinuousonstructionof nationaldentityan be dividednto woprocesses:territorialifferentiationnd territorialonding. hefirstrocesss the oneoutlinedn the ntroductionothis article,whereby bounded geographic ntity screated through processof exclusionvis-a-visothergeographic nits and the people associated withthem.Herb arguesthat this process s not sufficientor anexplanationof how nationalismbecomes wedded toterritory:While scholars of criticalgeopoliticshaveshownconvincinglyowboundaries re crucial n con-structing national identity, feel theirtreatmentsimbalancedbecause it does notgivesufficientttentionto the processofattachment hat s exemplifiedn thenotionof thenationas a local metaphor" Herb 2004,

    144).Herb dvocates second omponentonationalistterritoriality,hat fterritorialonding.Territorialondings a tactic ywhich ationalismsfosteredhroughhe elites'evocationof emotionallinkageso regionalandscapes. erbargues hat uchbondingccurs tthe ocal cale longsideheprocessfboundarymaking;n thecase ofGermany,erritorialbondingakes heform fHeimat.Heimat einterpretsthe individual xperience f place into a collectivefeeling f belongingo a group nd its values-theGerman ation. .. When childrenearn boutplacenames,historicalvents, olklore,nd other facts' ftheirocal area they re taught o recognizeandlove) ts German'ssence"Herb2004,153).Throughtheir ommoninkage o the ocal landscape, itizenscome o thinknthe ollectivewe."Whatmakes he oncept fHeimat opowerfuls tsflexibility.erb rgueshat nyplaceorregionnGer-many ouldbe referredo as Heimat, nd thus veryplace nGermanyanbe describedsGerman, ith achregion niquelyo. Anderson1991) alludes o the m-portancef the Heimat henomenonor bstractom-munityormationhenhe describesisual ulture romsacred ommunities,uch s Christendom,hat redatethenation. hesestained lasswindows,aintings,tc.allportrayedistoric,eligiousiguresressednthe tyleof hepeoplewhomade he mage.Theshepherdshohave followed he starto the mangerwhereChristis born bear the features f Burgundian easants.The VirginMary s figureds a Tuscan merchant'sdaughter. This uxtapositionf he osmic-universaland themundane-particulareant hathowever astChristendomight e,andwas sensed obe, t mani-festedtselfariouslyoparticularwabian rAndalusiancommunitiess replicationsf themselves"Anderson1991, 22-23). Similarly,he visual cues in CaptainAmericaandscapesllow or hat ame uxtapositionfthenational-universalndthemundane-particular.t sthroughhisuxtapositionhat ome andscapesecomeparticularlyymbolicor,ndcriticalo,thenation.Symbolic andscapes nd theNation

    Symbolic andscapes erve"thepurposeofreproduc-ingculturalnorms nd establishinghe values of domi-nant groupsacross all of a society" (Cosgrove 1989,125). Indeed, it has been arguedthattheyare partofestablishing he very dea of a dominantgroup:"Na-tionhood .. involves a distinctivemagining f a par-ticular ortofcommunityooted n a particular ortofplace" (Billig1995, 74). Representationsf landscapesare not necessarilyphysical, ut instead can be an

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    634 Dittmerattempto policethe socialboundariesf "American-ness."Campbell1992) providesxamples f suchpo-licinghatncludeAmerica'sppositiono Communismand llicit rugs. aasi 1991,250) illustratesow heseboundariesimultaneouslyxclude utsidersndcreatea union f the nsiders:The collective,nstitutionallymediated oles xpressedn thestructuresfexpecta-tions re essential or hetransformationfregionsntoplaces, entresfa feelingfbelongingo time-space-specific,more or less abstract eferenceroups ndcommunities."aasi's ndCampbell's oundariesf n-clusion nd exclusion esignateertainandscapes smore of henation"han thers. or xample,much sHerb'sGerman extbooksocused n portraitsfre-gional eographys a tactic o fostermotive onnec-tions oa stereotypicalandscapef henation, aptainAmerica sed mageryf an iconicAmerica ofosterfeelingfterritorialiolationn itspost-9/11toryline.The visualmediumnherentncomic ooks llows heauthorsorepresentisuallyulturalalues hat reonlyvisible n the backgroundnd mustbe broughtutthrough"close, etailed eadingf he ext"Cosgrove1989,126).TheAmericanandscapes ortrayednthepost-9/11aptain mericaomics re llhighlyymbolicand likelyhosen oheightenhedramatic ension fthe attackbyterrorists.heirstatus s placesworthdefending y CaptainAmericaprivilegeshemoverother laces n thescriptedeographyf nsidersndoutsiders.densor 2002,39-40) describes rivilegedlandscapesfthis ort:Argentinas nevitablyinked ithmagesf hepampas:gauchosidingcrosshe rasslands.oroccosassociatedwith alm rees,ases ndshapelyunescapes,nd theNetherlandsith flat atchworkf oldersnddrainageditches. fcourse,he eserts,wampsndmountainsfArgentinaend o be overlooked,s do thehighlandsofMoroccondHolland.BecausetheWorld radeCenter ndPentagonre soiconic or heAmericanmagination,ncomparisono,say, heAleutian slands r a landfill,he attackhadspecialsignificanceorAmericans eeking o interprettthrough geopolitical cript. densor 2002) specificallymentions he attack on the WorldTrade Center as ablow against the symbolsof national modernity ndprogress; e does notspecificallyeferencehePentagonattacks,but,clearly, hesefall ntohis category fsitesthatrepresentheauthorityfthegovernment ithintsnational territory.his Americanconnection to thesesites s an exampleofwhatHerbreferredo as territorialbonding-a linkage n the popularconsciousness o alocality s particularlyconicfor henation. While the

    attacks f9/11 learly iolated mericans'ense fter-ritorial ifferentiation,heywereparticularlyotentbecausethey isruptedheprocess f Americanerri-torial ondingy ttackinghose pecificites.Similarly,heuse of he oci nCaptain mericaothillustratesheir tatusssites f nsidernessnduses hatstatus o heightenheemotionalontentf thestory.The openingcene n thestorys ofGround ero seeFigure ). Ground erohasoften een dentifiedn themediaas "sacred pace" (e.g., ken2002). The nextscene s nthe treetsfNewYork ity, ithAmericanflags lyingromllthe ight oles.Certainly,fter/11,NewYork itywas seen as uniquely merican or,smany aid,"We'reall New Yorkers ow" (e.g.,Allis2001).The action hiftsoCenterville,hichs a met-aphor orMiddleAmerica rtheAmerican eartland(thismetaphor illbe discussedn moredepth ater).Followinghedefeat f errorists,aptainAmerica oesto an Americanmilitaryase; its nsidernesss clearlydenoted y ts function. ponhisdepartureromhebase,CaptainAmerica ides ismotorcycleast n In-dependence ay celebration,ompletewithfireworksexplodingndflags aving; edaydreamsboutwhat islife ouldhave been ifhe werenotCaptainAmerica(RieberndCassaday 002d,15-16):

    You ould ave ad home. ou ould e thereow.nalittle hite ouse. n a quietunnytreet.obodyiringmissilestyou. nowingho ourriendsre-listeningotheneighbor'sids queal, unninghroughhe prinkleronemore ime.Whileheworksnher an. heoneyoulove.Theonewho oves ou. ou'dook ack ther ndshe'dook ack tyou nd mile. ndyou'd nowhewaswonderingoo.Howbeautifulhey'd ave to be-thechildrenou'd ave omeday.The images fthis lternateife lash n thepage,pro-viding slideshowf dealized, eteronormative,mall-townAmericana, hich ooksremarkablyike Center-ville seeFigure). These nvocationsf all-American"quotidianandscapesurban enter,mall own, ourthofJulyelebration)erve oconstructnAmericanormofHeimat hrough hich ndividualsometo under-stand their ommon onnection o the nation.Herb's tacticsofterritorialifferentiationnd bond-inghelpus tounderstand owthesymbolichapeoftheUnited States is rescaled as the landscape imagery fCaptainAmerica, heret affectshe ndividual n anemotionalevel.As the example fCaptainAmericashows, eographicconographynpolitical exts,whethercomic books or Herb's textbooks, ontributes o the(re)constructionfnational dentity hrough he reifi-cationofthestate.

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    636 Dittmer........... ............... ............................................ .. ...................................N:_---------------oulde........i.? ...................................................... ................. ........................ X4..:................................xIn Mhiteite -ej-- M.'mWK.,..... MduleL . .......unnytreet Un, . .......M WE:.... ............. :.-. .. . ........................................ .......... ..........Nobodyir :X,sslest.............. - ----------------------------............. X........ . ........... ........................ ........................................................ . ..... . ..................... . .... ......... . ....................................... . .............. .......................... .XXX.:-.........---------------W ........... ..'X-YX.. Knowingho'X.....................U riendsre............. ............................................. .............................. d............ L..................... ...................... .- x...... .................................... ................:. ................................................... ......... .................................:-.................................................. ........ ...... ............................................................................------------------------------heorksneran.glli:iea..... i?X000.1,:? IN,..M-ATheneouov MMM.............................. . ...................................... . ......................... .................. ................. ................................................................. ............................................................................... ........................................... . ............................................................... ......... ..............................L:':?:L,'., ................................ . .... . ........... ............................ ..... ............ . . V .. .,..'..':..'%.'??'.L".LL... . ...:L:,?...:.??:.'.L?L L--.. . . ................X . . . .....Q .. ..: ..nehooves . ....... ......e.X ...... . .............................................. sx:........................................ N., .............................. b.. 5xe,........ VL........

    Figure . The uxtapositionf ndependenceDay fireworksnd CaptainAmerica'sdo-mestic antasyonstructn image fAmeri-cana.

    theDepartmentf Homeland ecurityn the UnitedStatesraisedmany olitical ackles, ut few inguisticones;yet t was a rare xample f theUnited tatesrhetoricallynstitutionalizingn explicitlyerritorialformfnationalism.merican ationalismasgenerallybeenpredicatedn commonnlightenmentalues e.g.,

    freedom, iberty,ndividualism)rather than commonterritorialffinity.NeitherRoosevelt or Truman eferredo theU.S. as ahomeland,utonly sed the termo referoother oun-tries nder hethreat f nvasionHolland,Russia, nd

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    Captain merica'smpire:eflectionsn dentity,opularulture,ndPost-9/11eopolitics 637Japan).Perhaps omeland as evocative f theGermanfatherlandnd the sinisterdentificationf Heimatwithfascistdeologiesfracialpurity,nd the German omeguard ndhomeland efenseHeimwehr,eimatschutz).-(Kaplan 2003,85)

    Peggy oonan2002)alluded o this bjectionhensheraised rare oice fpublic issent:ThenameHomelandecurityratesn a lot ofpeople, nder-standably.omelandsn't eallynAmericanord,t'snot omethingeused o ay r ay ow.thas vaguelyTeutonicing." erhapshis erritorializationarksnewera n Americanistory;s Kaplan 2003,90)points ut, his, oo, erves politicalurpose:Al-thoughomelandecurityay triveocordon ff henations a domesticpace romxternalhreats,t sactuallybout reakingown heboundariesetweeninsidend utside,bouteeinghe omelandn stateof onstantmergencyromhreatsithinndwithout."Still,his grounding"fAmericandentitynthena-tionalerritoryas learlyreactionothe iolationfthe nside/outsideialecticfterritorialifferentiationby he ssaultsn heWorldrade enternd entagon.Simon alby 2004)argues ersuasivelyhat overn-ment ndmedia lites f heUnitedtates avehewedto a geopoliticalcriptince /11 hat as edto a re-territorializationfAmericandentity.The worldhad changed, aid theTV pundits nd thenewspaperolumnists,ut uitehow emainedmysterysthegeopoliticalpecificationfthe terrainfconflict asdecidedlybscure eyondhe nitialnvocationf xternalthreat romerrorism... The presidentialiscourse rewlinesbetween hose hatwere n America'sideor thosethatwereon the side of the terrorists,hepolarizationdynamicf onflict as et nmotion astily;hem ndus,freedomersus erroreprisedhe themesfotherAmer-icanwars, othhot nd cold. -(Dalby 2004,66)

    While alby robablyidnot ntendor is ommentstoapplyo suchmedia s comic ooks,he criptedetails s also inscribed ithin hepagesofCaptainAmerica.The events f /11 rovidednopportunityor aptainAmericaoreturno tsorigins,ith cleargeopoliticalscript,ree f theambiguityndcomplexityntroducedsince he1960s.ndeed,t s apparenthatmuch ftheAmerican ublicembraced hispost-9/11cript,npart or hose ame easons,s a nostalgiceturno TheGood War" Terkel 004),WorldWar I, withts clearcategoriesfgoodandevil,freedom,nd fascism.hefollowingwill demonstrate ow Captain America

    participatednthe eterritorializationfAmericanden-tityy learlynscribinghenside/outsideialecticn heimmediateost-9/11nvironment.hen,twill roceedtodemonstrateaptainmerica'swarenessf ompetinggeopoliticalcriptsndhow hey ere lso ncorporatedinto he ext oproducedepoliticizedarrative.

    CaptainAmericat Ground eroTheeventsf /11oincided ithhe reparationfa newCaptainmericaeries,nd torylinesere ur-riedlyritteno ncorporatehenew eopoliticalcript.Thefirstwenty-fourages fCaptainmerica1 pe-cificallyeferencehe ventsf9/11.nfact,hefirstpage fCaptainmerica 1 hows handwith box-cuttern the isle f jetliner,urroundedy tartledpassengers.hesecond nd hirdageshowmagesfmen nrobeswithong ark eards ndassault iflesgatheredutside cave. The text hat ccompaniesthese ages eads,Itdoesn't atterhereou houghtyouwere oingoday. ou're art fthebomb ow.[Scene hiftsomen utsideave]And omewherenthe world-a handfulfmenwith amishedyes itaround radio-or telephone. aiting.wenty in-utes-Four housand urdersater-They raise odfor he bloodthat tains heir ands" RieberndCassaday002a,1-3).Thesepages etupa clear i-

    chotomyf nsidersndoutsiders,f nnocentndun-suspectingomesticirlineravelers,nd ofdistant,foreignntruders.hisportrayals consistentith heideaof Americanxceptionalism,herebymericaninnocencesprotectedy ts solationromherest ftheworld. alby2004, 7) notes hat hedominantscriptf9/11 old s that he the eographyofwar]had apparentlyhanged,oo; the assumptionhatAmericatself asrelativelymmuneoterrorism,e-spitehe arlier993 ombn he asementf heWorldTrade enter,nd heOklahomaombingf1995,wasno longeralid." his oncernver henew ocus fcombatsfoundnthe exts well: henext ageshowSteve Rogers out of uniform)ooking or urvivorsin therubble fGround ero. His firsthoughtsre"Oh,God-How could hishappen ere?"RieberndCassaday 002a,4).CaptainAmerica's esponse o the attacks n theWorld radeCenter ndPentagonsone ofmourning,righteousnger,nd self-discipline.hile at GroundZero,SteveRogers as a conversationith rescueworkerfter inding corpsentherubbleRieberndCassaday 002a,8-9):

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    638 Dittmer

    TO BE

    Figure. The useofperspectiveuts he eadern the ositionf World rade enterictim.RogersCaptainmerica):saw man nd a woman-when 'd run ere romhepark. heyumped. oldinghands.Rescuer:'llget stretcher.Rogers:aveyou een henews?Rescuer:oomuch f t.Rogers:o theynow,et?Rescuer:h, they now. utthey'retill alling imsuspect.hey ay here's oevidence,et. hey ay heywantobe sure.Rogers: ehave obe sure. his s war.There retwo hingsnterestingbout his xchange.First,t establisheshatwar s not choice; t s a statethatAmerica as foundmposedpon t.The dominantscriptfwar, s Dalby 2004,65) points ut,foreclosesother ossibilities:The pointhere s thatgeopoliticalscriptsmight ave been otherwise;he events ouldhavebeenspecifieds a disaster,n act ofmadness rperhapsmost bviously crime, n act thatrequiredcareful oliceworknternationallynd in theUnitedStates."The second nterestinghing bout this ex-change s thatwhile hedialogues taking lace,theaction, iewed rom he third erson erspective,s ofthe rescuer ndRogers overinghecorpse. he finallines,We have to be sure. his swar,"regivenwhiletheview s fromheperspectivef he orpse,ookingpatRogersseeFigure). In a war etween mericandthe errorists,heresno llusion fwhich ide he eader

    is on.The readers subjectivelyut ntheplaceofthevictims t the WorldTradeCenter;thisperspectivecan be viewed s a conceit fBillig's unwaved lag"phenomenon.A scene whereCaptainAmerica aves an ArabAmericanrom heangryatherf World radeCen-ter victimfurthershe dominant eopolitical criptofAmericannnocence nd fairness.WhileCaptainAmerica'snterventionemonstratesmerica's om-mitment o multiculturalismnd justice,his innermonologueerves otonly s a proscriptionorAmeri-can behavior nd a statementfAmericanmilitarypower,ut lso imultaneouslyonstructsoth hemean-ingofAmerica nd theterrorists'dentitys parts f afreedom-loving/freedom-hatingichotomyhat fore-closes otherpossibilitiesRieber nd Cassaday 002a,20-24):We've ot obestrongerhanwe've ver een. rthey'vewon.We can hunt hem own.We can scour verybloodstainedrace f heirerrorromheEarth.Wecanturnverytonehey'vever ouchedodust,nd veryblade f rasso sh.And twon'tmatter. e've ot obestrongerhanwe've ver een-asa people. sa nation.Wehave o beAmerica. rthey'veon.We're oingomake tthroughhis-we,he eople. nitedy powerthat oenemyf reedomould eginounderstand.eshare-we re-theAmericanream.

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    CaptainAmerica'smpire: eflectionsn Identity,opular ulture,ndPost-9/11eopolitics 639CaptainAmerica nd Terrorism

    The remainderfCaptain merica , nd ssues -6,tell he toryf terroristsho attack heUnited tatessevenmonthsfterhe vents f eptember001. nthisstory rc,we learn moreabout the meaningssso-ciatedwithAmerica: terroristythe nameofFaysalal-Tariq irdropsmall andminesntothe small ownof Centerville. enterville, ith ts literallymiddleAmerica" ame and overwhelminglyhitepopulation(only neAfrican mericans visiblen the entire l-Tariq episode), s clearly vocative f the AmericanHeartlandmythologynd resonates s what Edensor(2002,50-51) referso as a "quotidianandscape."The battlebetween aptainAmerica nd the ter-roristss a literaryroxyor he warbetween mericaandthefundamentalistslam hat ecame he"Other"describedn the post-9/11eopoliticalcript Dalby2004).The contrast etween heChristianentervilleand the Islamic ihadistss made from hevery irstimage fCentervilleseeFigure); it s a view own hemain treet fCenterville,howingrees,owbuildings,and barns.What is notable boutthe image s thattheview s fromhe op f churchteeple,llowingheChristianross ooccupyhe eftmosthirdf heframe.Incase that ymbolismscapes hereader,he onflictsfurtherast as a "clashof civilizations"Huntington1993) throughhe narrative:he terroristsapturehetownnone fell woop yburstinghroughhe stainedglasschurchwindow n Easter unday nd trappingmost fthepopulationf 600 in their ewswith rip-wired andmines. o furtherlarifyhe differencee-tweenChristianitynd Islam,the last words f thepreacher efore he terroriststtack re (Rieber ndCassaday 002b,3), "It'sgoodto see so many isitorsherethismorning. eighbors-you nowwe're lwaysgladto see you.Strangers-we opeyou'llgiveus a

    chance to knowyou better,fter he service." heopennessnd tolerance fChristianitysfurtherxem-plifiedy he mage f he utside f he hurch, hichsdominatedy sign hat ays EASTER SERVICE:ALLARE WELCOME" (Rieber nd Cassaday2002b,3).Further,eferenceso jihadist hetoric ermeate hestoryline.ne terroristeferso a woman s a "whorewith paintedmouth"RieberndCassaday 002b, );anothererrorist,illingo die tokillCaptainAmerica,announces Death speaceforme" (Rieber ndCassa-day2002b,13).While slam s never xplicitly entioned,he refer-ences nthe text requite lear ntheir ntended on-notation or he reader. he obviousnterpretationfthis ext raws nHuntington's1993) "clash fcivili-zations" hesis.nthis eopoliticalarrative,ulturendreligionerve s the fundamentalchismnworld oli-tics, nd the currenteopoliticalituation erives romsecularmodernityeapinghewhirlwindfreligiouse-vival.Thus,whileAmerican ctions n thepastmayhave causedfriction,he conflicttselfs an inevitableresult f ncompatibleultures.slam, n particular,sgiven s an example f a civilizationnnatelyied toreligiousiolence. regory2004,58) discusses ow hisnarrativeas becomemainstream:Inthewake f eptember1, hismaginativeeographyhelped o definend mobilize series fpublics ithinwhichopularssento-indeed, demandor-wars-sumedmmenseower.ormanyommentators,he ttackon America as ndeed "clash fcivilizations"....l-thoughe [Huntington]ow onnectedherise f s-lamicismo the epressionsfdomesticovernmentsndthe epercussionsfUS foreignolicyntheMiddle ast,other ommentatorssedHuntington'sepeatedharac-terizationsfMuslimsnd Muslimars" odegradeheverydea f slam s a civilization.

    'Centerville.K;? ToMP',aOm...............,.-sx-.........-Mx X-m-... 0:R. .. . ..7,x-,A-x. . ........ W AWA&..........7:. 1q,%:.?.:;::.?,:?.?:?............................ ......IvX: x................ MXI.-1 .................. . ............V.Figure. The irstmagef enterville.ote he rominencef he hristianrossn he oreground.

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    640 DittmerCaptainAmerica ndEmpire

    Whilemuch fthe above ndicates relativelyn-nuancedgeopoliticalcript hathas more n commonwith the WWII and Red Scare versions fCaptainAmerica hanwith hecurrentncarnationfCaptainAmerica, hepost-9/11ssues fCaptainAmericalsoinvoke another eopolitical cript hat is critical fAmerican oreignolicy n anticolonialrounds.n-deed,Dalby rgues hat he events fSeptember001are notexplainable ia thedominanteopoliticalar-rative; ather,hey re most nderstandablenterms fempire:Understandingar nthe ermsf tate-to-stateonflict,the econdWorldWarmodel,r venn ts pdateder-sion heGulf ar f 991,everelyimitshe nderstandingofwarfareo a matterfpitchedattlesetweenarger-mies. here s anotheristoryftheuse ofAmericanpower,neof he onductf mall arsnthe ise fUSpower,patternfviolencehatMaxBoot,nhis ecentvolumen he opic,uggestsightest ecalledimperialwars"a term hat,Americanensitivitiesotwith-standing,eems pt to describemanyUS adventuresabroad. -(Dalby 2004, 0)

    But American ensitivitiesre a critical artof theequation;this s partof the difficultyn discussingAmerican oreignolicy. pinionsdifferboutwhatis appropriatelyeferredo as empire. Differentndsometimesival onceptionsf mpirean evenbecomeinternalizednthe ame pace" Harvey 003,5). Har-veynotes hat heU.S. empire asbeenconceptualizedinvariousways,ncluding eorgeW Bush's mpire f"hardpower," linton's mpire f "softpower,"ndthe Cold War-eralient tate ystem.till,nall cases,"the ctuallyxistingmericanmpire as cquired..not na fit f bsent-mindednessas theBritishiked oclaim),but in a state of denial: mperialctions nthepart f heU.S.were ot o betalked f s such, orwerethey llowed o have anyramificationsor hedomesticituation"Harvey 003,6).The events f9/11, "revoltn theprovinces"nDalby's (2004, 80) formulation, ere "about politicaltheatre,dramaticgestures, nd ... the willingness oresist n the face ofridiculous dds." Thus, theWar onTerror s not a new typeof war,but instead,simply"counter-insurgencyarfare t the fringes f imperialcontrol."Dalby is arguing or reconsideration f thegeographic nderpinningsfcurrent vents n Afghan-istan, raq, and elsewherewhereU.S. troops re com-mitted.Ratherthan the territorializedonceptionof aviolatedAmerica, heeventsof9/11 houldbe put nto

    an imperial ontext-onemaskedbyAmerica's en-dencynot to territorializeheempiretself.The re-sultingEmpire f Disorder' llowsAmerican ationalidentityo maintain ts anti-imperialationalizationswhile ommittingroopsogarrisonuties nd counter-insurgencyperationsnmany laces" Dalby 004, 2).CaptainAmericas forced o confrontheblowbackofempiren theal-Tariqtoryline,herebyuestioningAmerica'sole nthewild ones fdisorderround heglobe.The firstlue that he eventsn Centervilleremore omplicatedhan reviouslyllustratedomes romal-Tariq'smonologue o the hostagesn the church(RieberndCassaday 002c, ): "Some fyou re skingyourGodwhy ouwilldietoday.ome ofyouknow-those fyouwhowork t thebombmanufacturinga-cilityt the dgeofthis eacefulown. oday ou earnwhatt means osow hewind ndreap hewhirlwind."The geopoliticaleorderingmplicitnthat tatementssignificant;t punctureshe innocence f America,showinghat ven townikeCentervillespart f heimperialroject. he distantffectsfthebombsmadeinCentervilleredemonstratednthenext cene,whenCaptainAmerica attles our hildrennstylized rabcostumes,rmedwithdaggersnd hatchets.Midwaythroughhebattle, aptainAmerica otices hat hesechildrenachhave a metal rostheticrm r eg.Whilebattlinghem,heCaptain onverses ith l-Tariqnduncovershe connectionetweenhe bombfactorynCentervillend themeleehe isengagedn (RieberndCassaday 002c,2-4):Tariq: hese remyhepherds.y hildren,merican-andyours.CA:Call hemff.his sAmerica-weon'tmake ar nchildren.Tariq: o?Tell ur hildrenhen, merican-whooweddeath landmines]ntheirields-andefttfor he n-nocentoharvest? ho ook heir ands?heir eet?Reflectingn this evelation,aptainAmerica onsidersthevalidityfthe dominanteopoliticalarrativeRi-eber ndCassaday 002c,15): "Arewehatedbecausewe're free-freeand prosperousnd good?Or does thelightwe see cast shadows thatwe don't-where mon-sters ike this l-Tariq an plant heseeds ofhate?"Later,the villainwhohad sental-Tariq ransformshe "blow-back" of Centerville nto an overarching ritiqueofAmerican foreignpolicy.While Captain America isgrappling iththe villain who is nameless, nd ofun-knownethnicity ecause of burns over his face-andtherefore laceless), the villain offers o surrenderfCaptain Americacan guesshis homeland (RieberandCassaday2002e, 16-18):

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    CaptainAmerica'smpire: eflectionsn Identity,opular ulture,ndPost-9/11eopolitics 641There's o plantingn thehell 'mfrom. o seed,noharvest.. notnow. ut here as.Guerillasunned yfatherownwhile e wasworkingn thefields-withAmericanullets. mericaneapons. here m from?Myfather idn't now hat heCold Warwas at itsheight-remember?hen he Sovietswereyour reatenemy?heevil mpire?ymotheridn't nowhat urnation as n he hroesf nundeclaredivil ar etweenyourllies nd he llies f vilwhenheran ofind erhusband.ymotherasnterrogatednd hot. urhomewas urned.hat ireavememy ace. ut ireidn't akemea monster.ouknow our istory,aptain merica.Tell our onsterheree's rom.... ou an'tnswer e.... You layedhat amentoomanylaces... The unnever et on your oliticalhessboard-yourmpirefblood.

    The villain as directlynvoked hetermempire"odiscuss hegeopoliticaltructureut n place throughAmerican egemony.he geographiconsequencesfCaptainAmerica'sempire f blood"are parallelednDalby's 2004,82-83) descriptionf n "empirefdis-order":Consumersrenot afelyerentheirities ivorcedromthe onsequencesf hepoliticalconomyhat rovidestheirommoditiesnd heirdentities....T]he ntercon-nectionsetween hat heUnited tates rUS-basedcorporationso nremotelacessno ongermatterhatdoesnot onnect,nhowevernlikelyays, ithverydaylifenAmerica.ecurityequiresnderstandingoliticalconnectionsodistantvents;oliticssalso bout bli-gationsodistanttrangers.Theprecedingections ave llustratedow rtifactsofpopular ultureikeCaptainAmerica ndother n-tertainmentor heyouth fAmericaerve o (re)con-structhemeaningfAmerica. heperpetuationf he"imaginedoliticalommunity"equiresonstantffortstodisciplinehemeaningfAmericaAnderson991,5). Furthermore,hemythfAmericanxceptionalismand ts onsequentowerostructurehe arth'surfacegeopoliticallyequires script f equal and mutually

    exclusive tates; his cript eeds tobe, iterally,arratedthroughmediasuch as comic books. While theexampleofCaptainAmerica howshow thatreading s possiblefrom hetext, t also showsthe importance fdissidentgeopoliticalnarratives n what originated s a comicbookproxy orAmericanforeign olicy.CaptainAmeri-ca's ambivalentreaction to America's complicity nglobalaffairseadsto an ambiguous eading fthe comicbook'spolitical ontent.CaptainAmerica cknowledgesthesinsofAmerican mpire, ut viewsthosesins as notsufficient or the legitimizingf "terrorist"ctivities.

    Consequently,e defeats he enemies f America nbattleRieberndCassaday 002c).This torylineromCaptainAmerica einscribeshe dominance f state-basedpowervernonstatectors ydelegitimizinghosewho revoicelessn theterritoriallyased tate ystem.Similarly,eitner, avlik, nd Sheppard 2002) haveshown hattransnationaletworksonflict ith ndtranscenderritorialoundaries,etdo noteliminatetheirmportancendutility.till,whileultimatelye-entrenchinghe tatus uoofterritoriallyasedAmeri-can power othmorallyn thedialogue ndphysicallyin theaction, aptainAmericaerves s a voiceforresistant,ounterhegemonicarrative hat llustratestheconnectionsetweenheAmerican ay f ife ndAmericanmilitaryperationsroundheworld.

    ConclusionsEdward aid (1993,7) wrote,Justs none of us isoutside rbeyond eography,one ofus is completelyfree romhestrugglevergeography.hatstrugglescomplex nd interestingecause t is notonly boutsoldiersnd cannons utalso about deas, boutforms,about imagesand imaginings."his articlehas at-temptedo llustrateherelationshipetween aid's wofacets fgeographictruggle:hysicallaims o spaceand culturallaims ogeopoliticalruth.his rticle asillustratedhepoliticalelevancefCaptain mericandhas usedthepost-9/11exts f that eries o describepart ftheprocess ywhichCaptainAmericanforms:(1) themeaningfAmerica nd how that dea is re-scaledto the ndividualeader hrougherritorialym-bols, 2) theprocess ywhich andscapemages ancontributeo territorialondingmong itizens,nd 3)the constructionfa dominant merican eopoliticalnarrative.hus,Captain merica otonly efines hatAmericas,but talsofirmlynsconceshe eader ithinitsgeo-graph.he reader,acitlyssumedobeAmeri-can, s remindedfhis or her ndividualdentitys anAmericannd s toldwhat hatmeansnrelationo therestofthe world.As LindaR. Williams1991) says,regarding orrormovies,to dismiss omic books as ju-venile entertainments to misstheirutility or ulturalunderstanding.The astonishing cceptance of [this]iconographys an important artof our societal char-acter raisesquestionsregarding ot onlythe contentofmyth ut also itspower" Aitken2002, 105).CaptainAmerica as alsobeen shown obe a text hatexpresses greatdeal of mbiguityndnuanceregardingthe identity nd geopoliticalnarrativesof America.There s a disconnection etweenwhatCaptainAmerica

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    642 Dittmeris meantto representthe idealizedAmerican)and thesource of thegeopolitical arrativesn whichhe has tooperatetheAmericanlitesfmedia nd overnment).A fundamentalource fconflictnCaptain mericasince the 1960s has been this divergencebetweenAmerican deals and Americanpractice.The acknowl-edgement fthisdivergences inherentlyebilitatingortheconstructionfhegemoniceopoliticalcripts,sseen in the referenceso Americanempire n CaptainAmerica.his ounterhegemonicositionsunusualnliterary enrethat s almostuniversallybout the con-servation f the statusquo; superheroes re about theprotection f ife nd propertynd almostnever eektofundamentallyevolutionize he system.Any characterthat eeks oachieve oliticalreconomic raxiss,bycomicbookconvention,haracterizeds a villain Wolf-Meyer003).Thus, aptainmericaccupies partic-ular niche within he worldofsuperheroes. he story-lines have the hero actingin the usual conservativemanner, reservinghestatus uo; however,heauthorsofthe text ncorporate issident epresentationsfthegeopoliticalrderntoCaptainmerica'slotlinesnddialogues.n thisway,heyre bletoaffecthedis-course yboth einforcingn idealAmericandentityand contrastinghat dealwiththeeffectsfAmericangeopolitical ctivities.Acknowledgements

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    Correspondence:epartmentfGeologyndGeography,eorgiaouthernniversity,tatesboro,A 30460-8149,-mail:[email protected]