Imagining National Security: The CIA, Hollywood, and the War on Terror


  • Deepa Kumar
  • Arun Kundnani


The era of the War on Terror has necessitated a security imagination that both justifies a gigantic national security state and provides security personnel with the scenarios needed to develop security practices and policies. While scholars have studied the ways in which cultural products are influenced by national security agencies, we seek to highlight the complementarity in the media-state nexus and the part played by the culture industry in furnishing the security establishment with the cultural imagination needed to meet its goals. Such a dialectical approach has the advantage of charting the flow of culture in multiple directions in order to develop a holistic understanding of how a national security imagination is mobilized. In particular, we focus on the show Homeland to explore the ways in which the workings of the national-security state under Obama have been naturalized through the activities of a new and rebranded CIA. We set out to contribute to the relatively small body of work on the CIA and Hollywood through this preliminary analysis of Homeland.