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Crisis Communication and Deterrence: The Interaction of Facts and Fictions


This media-historical project examines crisis communication from the Cold War up to the subsequent War on Terror and beyond. The goal is to investigate how the interaction of the factual and fictitious crisis communication triggered fear and deterrence concepts--and vice versa. Media studies lack an analysis of how media participate in a political actor network. The proposed project is the first contribution that examines the chain of operations in politics in detail and discusses how media become political. First, the researcher seeks to show how both factual and fictitious channels of communication characterize the Cold War as a conflict that is not only determined by actual events and political concepts, but also by fictions of nuclear war. The mutual analysis of the fictitious Red Telephone and of the existing hotline between Washington and Moscow should unfold the interwoven history of Cold War crisis communication. It is proposed that both facts and fictions affect deterrence concepts and fear. Second, the researcher examines the ambivalent function of third parties who intervened in the bipolar structured channel between the USA and the USSR. The objective is to show that disruptive third parties provoke societal self-reflections: While British and French hotlines to the USSR paradoxically strengthened the USA-USSR-channel, fictitious actors such as computers questioned rational actors within the military chain of command and excluded human actors to secure peace or trigger a nuclear war. Third, the researcher investigates the media break after the Cold War and the simultaneous emergence of networked crisis communication and the War on Terror. In fiction, the networked hotline must protect itself from attacks by hackers. In real life, digital diplomacy emerges along with the establishment of new media, such as Twitter. The inherent danger of social media (e.g.,Tweets from D.Trump) is that they could constitute a hyperreality that loses connections to reality.

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-CAR - CAR – Career Restart panel


Campusvej 55
5230 Odense M
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 219 312