OTHERISING IRAN IN AMERICAN POLITICAL DISCOURSE: CASE STUDY OF A POST-JCPOA SENATE HEARING ON IRAN SANCTIONS
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Otherising Iran in American political discourse: case study of a post-JCPOA senate hearing on Iran sanctions

 

Using van Dijk’s critical discourse analysis, this paper attempts to analyse the ways in which the Islamic Republic of Iran is constructed as a security threat in US congressional hearings. The article is based on the case of the two-day congressional hearing on post-JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) held by the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, on 24–25 May 2016. The session was presumably held to examine ‘sanctions relief’ provided to Iran; however, the study reveals that through the use of discursive tools such as lexical style and argumentation, Iran is framed and evaluated as a security threat to (1) the US; (2) US allies, specifically Israel; and (3) the international community. This construction reflects the established political and ideological stereotypes and also orientalist clichés which have led to Otherisation and vilification of Iran. Therefore, by representing Iran as an ‘irrational’, ‘radical’ and ‘barbaric’ entity, the US discrimination against Iran through sanctions and other unilateral political decisions is legitimised and justified.

Keywords: Critical discourse analysis, Iran, US, congressional hearing, orientalism, political discourse

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