Narrative Landmines Wins Book Award

Narrative Landmines: Rumors, Islamist Extremism, and the Struggle for Strategic Influence was recently awarded the 2012 Outstanding Co-Authored Book of the Year by the National Communication Association (NCA). Two of NarrativeTrack’s strategic communication specialists, Daniel Bernardi and Scott Ruston, are co-authors of the book. Narrative Landmines explores how rumors fit into and extend narrative systems and ideologies, particularly in the context of terrorism, counter-terrorism, and extremist insurgencies. It aims to explore how digital cultures work alongside economic, diplomatic, and cultural factors that influence political struggles and address the role of new and social media in the creation and spread of rumors.

The aNT blog 11.5.13uthors offer a new understanding of rumors in the context of “narrative IEDs,” which they define as low-cost, low-tech weapons that can successfully counter such elaborate and expansive government initiatives as outreach campaigns or strategic communication efforts. While not exactly the same as the advanced technological systems or Improvised Explosive Devices to which they are metaphorically related, narrative IEDs nevertheless operate as weapons that can aid the extremist cause.

At NarrativeTrack we use the same definition of rumor that the authors use in the text. Rumor is a shorthand term for speculation, half-truths, and misinformation in the form of stories or story elements that, to some contested populations, appear to be rational. We classify rumor as a special type of story owing to form, class, function, and operation within narrative systems.

It is important to also point out that narrative is a system of interrelated stories that share common elements and a rhetorical desire to resolve a conflict by structuring audience expectations and interpretations.

And the term master narratives refers to stories that circulate across historical and cultural boundaries, resolving archetypal conflicts through established literary and historical forms. Because master narratives are deeply embedded within a culture and are repeated in a plethora of texts and contexts, master narratives are particularly powerful systems.

Even if your interest is not examining extremist rhetoric of terrorist groups, this book offers fundamental examples and scenarios of how and why rumors can be dangerous to any strategic message. This is a fundamental read for any strategic communication analysis.

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