Osama bin Hood: Global Outlaw Hero Traditions and the Roots of Terror

Prof. Graham Seal
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This paper is based on research into the origins and maintenance of outlaw hero traditions around the world. Extending the seminal work of Eric Hobsbawm on the 'social bandit', the author's previously published work highlights the extensive nature of this tradition and the complex interplay of history and folklore, fact and fiction that powers this ambivalent, increasingly globalised tradition and its consequences.

Even when cultural and historical specificities are taken into account there remain compelling parallels between different cultures in the persistence of outlaw hero traditions. Osama bin Laden is being interpreted in the light of this tradition by cultural groups as disparate as Indian Hindu's and Hispanics of north and South America.

This paper proposes a cross-cultural model for understanding the imperatives involved in the generation and persistence of outlaw heroes, and the possibility of employing such knowledge to address the perceptions that lie at the root of terrorism.

Keywords: Osama bin Laden, Outlaw Hero Tradition, Terrorism, Globalisation, Cross-Cultural Model
Stream: Political Science, Politics
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof. Graham Seal

Associate Professor, Director Australian Studies Centre Australia Research Institute Curtin University of Technology

Graham Seal is the author of a number of books and articles on outlaw heroes published in Australia and internationally, including "The Outlaw Legend: A Cultural Tradition in Britain, America and Australia"; (Cambridge University Press, 1996) and "Encyclopedia of Folk Heroes" (ABC-Clio, 2001). He was principal consultant to the major National Museum of Australia exhibition "Outlawed! Rebels, Revolutionaries and Bushrangers" 2003-2005. He is interested in the globalisation of folk traditions and in applying insights gained from scholarly research and interpretation to the amelioration of socio-cultural conflicts and (mis-)perceptions, including prejudice, delusion and terrorism. He is currently Director of the Australian Studies Centre in the Australia Research Institute at Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia.

Ref: H05P0177