Representations of new terror: "Auto-anomie" in the films of Michael Haneke

Niven Kumar*, Lucyna Swiatek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The current fear surrounding New Terror is the fear of the unimaginable, the non-Reasonable. It is a function of modernity's tendency for Othering, locating the actions of the terrorist within the schema of a frenzied madness. The politically modernist films of Michael Haneke explore the role of modern social life in producing what Derrida terms a "terrifying autoimmunitary logic", a "spontaneous suicide" of the defence mechanism that protects an organism from its attackers. The terrorist act is always-already an act from the outside, an external aggression that must be avenged, thus effecting a separation that turns every violent revolutionary act into a unique historical event. Yet this vengeance evokes an aporia. The parameters of Otherness that imprison the terrorist are thus dissolved when the west considers its own progenitive contribution to the condition of modernity. While popular representations of the age of terrorism are characterized by a threat from without, we propose that Haneke's films, in particular The Seventh Continent (1989), 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994), Caché (2005) and The White Ribbon (2009), explore the source of this anomie, locating our fear of the non-Reasonable within the very architecture of our modern sociopolitical life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-321
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Postcolonial Writing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Auto-immunity
  • Michael Haneke
  • Modernity
  • Postcolonialism
  • Terrorism


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