Ordinary lives behind extraordinary occupations: on the uses of Rubicon for a social history of American intelligence - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne Access content directly
Journal Articles Cambridge Review of International Affairs Year : 2021

Ordinary lives behind extraordinary occupations: on the uses of Rubicon for a social history of American intelligence

Abstract

This article will evaluate the possible uses of fiction-specifically TV series-for a social history of American intelligence. Drawing on methodological debates within intelligence studies as well as contemporary philosophy, it argues that TV series allow viewers to hypothetically experience the everyday life of ordinary intelligence professionals by permitting in-depth descriptions of specific routines and practices. Such a claim will be illustrated using the example of Rubicon (AMC, 2010), an American TV series that was praised for its realism by professionals and scholars alike. By making visible the ordinary life of professionals (coffee and lunch breaks, daily briefs, interminable waits etc.), Rubicon successfully demystifies the everyday life of intelligence analysts without normalizing the extraordinary nature of the secret world (secrecy, mistrust, and extreme violence). In addition to challenging the clear-cut and often overly simplistic distinction between the factual and the fictional when it comes to secret intelligence, this contribution will also broaden our understanding of the hidden side of government by shedding light on cultural perceptions (including self-perceptions) of intelligence professionals.
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Dates and versions

hal-03760764 , version 1 (25-08-2022)

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Pauline Blistène. Ordinary lives behind extraordinary occupations: on the uses of Rubicon for a social history of American intelligence. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 2021, 34 (5), pp.739-760. ⟨10.1080/09557571.2021.1892592⟩. ⟨hal-03760764⟩

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