10 Years of Critical Terrorism Studies: Reflections on

10 Years of Critical Terrorism Studies: Reflections on the Past,
Prescriptions for the Future
1. Abstract, aims and objectives
In the ten years since its inception, the field of Critical Terrorism Studies (CTS) has facilitated a
distinctly pluralist body of literature, demonstrated by numerous books, edited volumes, journal
articles (published in Critical Studies on Terrorism and beyond) and various conferences. Taken
in its totality, this output forms an effective ontological, epistemological and ethical counterpoint
(Jackson, 2007, p. 244) to prominent narratives by which (counter)‘terrorism’ is popularly
understood. Critical Terrorism Studies has always straddled an ephemeral boundary between its
commitment to ontological and epistemological pluralism on the one hand, and a broad
commitment to emancipatory politics on the other; with its rapid expansion as a field of (critical)
inquiry, the degree to which CTS has married both approaches is—ten years on—very much up
for debate. Just how pluralist is Critical Terrorism Studies? What effect has its broad lineage in
Critical Theory had on silencing the production of alternative critiques? How effective has CTS
been in interacting with ‘orthodox’ terrorism scholars? How effective has CTS been in engaging
with policy-makers and/or the ‘general public’?
This workshop aims to revisit the foundation(s) of Critical Terrorism Studies to reflect on its
evolution as a (critical) field of inquiry and to serve as a platform to discuss contemporary
developments, as well as future directions. A renewed symposium—which brings together three
of CTS’ ‘founding scholars’ (namely, Dr. Jeroen Gunning, Prof. Marie Breen Smyth and Prof.
Richard Jackson)—forms the centerpiece of the workshop, with a number of ancillary panels
further contributing to the debate. Selected papers will be published in a special issue of Critical
Studies on Terrorism (2016), while keynote proceedings will be recorded and actively
disseminated via social media.
The primary objectives of this workshop are:
To facilitate in-depth reflection(s) on the achievements and limitations of Critical
Terrorism Studies as an academic field of inquiry
To intertwine contributions from the ‘founding scholars’ of Critical Terrorism Studies
with established scholars who have since been published under its auspices, and PhD
students who are currently undertaking research relating to Critical Terrorism Studies
To engage in critical debate with scholars from cogent fields (such as Peace Studies,
History, Middle East Studies and International Relations) who do not necessarily identify
themselves as ‘belonging’ to Critical Terrorism Studies, and to explore how CTS may
effectively engage with such literatures in the future
To invite reflections on how Critical Terrorism Studies can genuinely affect the public
debate on terrorism and how it might make its research output more ‘visible’ to the
general public
1 •
To invite reflections on how Critical Terrorism Studies can genuinely affect policymaking and how this chimes with its stated commitment(s) towards emancipatory change
2. Intellectual Significance
The primary aim of this workshop is to consolidate meaningful reflection on the development of
Critical Terrorism Studies from those who readily identify themselves as ‘belonging’ to the CTS
community, and those that do not. Structuring the workshop such that it intertwines the
contributions of CTS’ ‘founding scholars’ with established academics and PhD candidates is
intended to reflect the breadth of scholarship that has been produced to date, whilst also laying
solid foundations for a continued pluralistic approach into the future. Its abiding purpose is,
therefore, not to engage in a self-congratulatory exercise of insular navel-gazing, but, to embrace
the ten-year anniversary as an incentive to review how Critical Terrorism Studies may improve
in terms of its research output and—perhaps more importantly—how it might transcend the
familiar barriers of academic orthodoxy which can quite often obscure research output to oftneglected audiences of policy-makers and the general public.
The inherent inter-disciplinarity of CTS will be especially promoted at the workshop, with an
overarching focus on how CTS may learn from/contribute to current key debates that are taking
place within related fields such as International Relations, Security Studies, Peace Studies and
Middle East Studies. How can CTS scholars contribute to/learn from the recent
storytelling/narrative turn that has gained prominence in IR/Security Studies? How can CTS
contribute to/learn from the holistic approach offered by Middle East Studies (as a sub-field of
Area Studies) on emerging problematiques in the region, such as the rise of ISIS/the Islamic
State? Finally, how can CTS scholars contribute to/learn from recent debate(s) on the relevance
of(/end of?) IR theory as a means to interpret contemporary international affairs? These themes
will be specifically addressed in the papers and presentations of a number of participants, and we
hope explore this theme further at the Critical Terrorism Studies Annual Conference (September
2015), with an eye towards publication in a special section of Review of International Studies.
3. Workshop Format
The workshop will be centred around a ‘keynote’ symposium comprising presentations from
founding CTS scholars, Prof. Marie Breen-Smyth, Dr. Jeroen Gunning and Prof. Richard
Jackson. The purpose of this discussion is to revisit these scholars’ overriding aim(s) in creating
Critical Terrorism Studies, and to subsequently reflect on the field’s achievements and failures.
The symposium will be followed by three ‘breakout’ panels, each comprising four speakers. This
format allows for presentations from the majority of workshop participants (15/17), whilst
allowing for in-depth discussion across a range of topics relevant to the workshop’s overarching
theme. These panels will be followed by extended closing remarks—which will also be delivered
by the three ‘keynote’ speakers on the topic of ‘The future of Critical Terrorism Studies’. This
discussion will be specifically focused on how CTS might more effectively influence public
debates on (counter)terrorism, while also examining its potential to affect policy-making. A draft
outline is provided herewith:
2 8.30-9.00: Registration and Opening Remarks (CSTWG Convenors: Dr. James Fitzgerald, Ms.
Megan Armstrong, Miss Nadya Ali)
9.00-10.30: Renewed Symposium: Reflections on the development of Critical Terrorism Studies
(Prof. Richard Jackson, Dr. Jeroen Gunning, Prof. Marie Breen-Smyth)
10.30-.10.45: Coffee Break
10.45-12.15: Breakout Panel 1
12.15-13.15: Lunch
13.15-14.45: Breakout Panel 2
14.45-15.00: Coffee Break
15.00-16.30: Breakout Panel 3
16.30-17.00: Closing Remarks: The Future of Critical Terrorism Studies? (Prof. Marie BreenSmyth, Prof. Richard Jackson, Dr. Jeroen Gunning)
4. List of Participants
1. Prof. Richard Jackson, Deputy Director at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies,
University of Otago, New Zealand. http://www.otago.ac.nz/ncpacs/staff/otago029983.html
[email protected]
2. Prof. Marie Breen-Smyth, Professor of International Politics and Director of Research,
Department of Politics, University of Surrey.
http://www.surrey.ac.uk/politics/people/professor_breensmyth_marie_politics/ [email protected]
3. Dr. Jeroen Gunning, Reader in Middle East Politics, and Conflict Studies; Executive Director,
Durham Global Security Institute, Durham University.
https://www.dur.ac.uk/sgia/profiles/?id=8334 [email protected]
4. Dr. Harmonie Toros, Lecturer in International Conflict Analysis, Department of Politics and
International Relations, University of Kent. http://www.kent.ac.uk/politics/aboutus/staff/members/toros.html [email protected]
5. Dr. Nick Robinson, Associate Professor in Politics/Videogames Research, School of Politics
and International Studies, University of
Leeds. http://www.polis.leeds.ac.uk/people/staff/robinson/ [email protected]
6. Dr. Nicholas Michelsen, Lecturer in International Relations Theory, Department of War
Studies, King’s College London.
[email protected]
7. Dr. Lee Jarvis, Senior Lecturer in International Security, School of Politics, Philosophy,
Language and Communication Studies, University of East Anglia.
[email protected]
3 8. Dr. Charlotte Heath-Kelly, Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Advanced Study, University of
Warwick. http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/people/heath-kelly/ [email protected]
9. Dr Akil Awan, Lecturer in Modern History, Political Violence and Terrorism, Department of
History/Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway University of London.
[email protected]
10. Dr. Philip Edwards, Lecturer in Criminology, Department of Sociology, Manchester
Metropolitan University.
[email protected]
11. Dr. Adrian Hänni, Lecturer in History, Research Center for Social and Economic History,
University of Zurich. http://www.adrianh.ch/ [email protected]
12. Dr. James Fitzgerald, Lecturer in Terrorism Studies, School of Law and Government, Dublin
City University. http://www.dcu.ie/info/staff_member.php?id_no=4415 [email protected]
13. Dr. Francesco Ragazzi, Lecturer in International Relations, Faculteit der Sociale
Wetenschappen, Universiteit Leiden.
[email protected]
14. Mr. Stef Wittendorp, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen.
http://www.rug.nl/staff/s.wittendorp/. [email protected]
15. Miss Louise Rigby, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law,
University of Leeds. http://www.sociology.leeds.ac.uk/people/students/rigby
[email protected]
16. Ms. Megan Armstrong, PhD Candidate, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology,
Newcastle University. [email protected]
17. Miss Nadya Ali, PhD Candidate, Department of Politics and International Relations,
University of Reading. http://www.reading.ac.uk/spirs/pg-research/spirs-pgstudents.aspx
[email protected]
18. Reserve Participant 1: Dr. Maura Conway, Senior Lecturer in International Security, School
of Law and Government, Dublin City University.
http://www.dcu.ie/info/staff_member.php?id_no=2478 [email protected]
19. Reserve Participant 2: Dr. Anthony Lemieux, Associate Professor of Communication,
Department of Communication, Georgia State University.
http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwdcm/13942.html [email protected]
5. Dissemination
Selected papers will be published in a special issue of Critical Studies on Terrorism (2016). As a
‘quartile two’ journal per the academic Scopus Database (despite its relatively recent inception in
2008), Critical Studies on Terrorism is heavily cited and has been proven to attract the attention
of numerous scholars who do not necessarily identify themselves as belonging to the ‘CTS
4 community’. The interdisciplinary nature of CTS ensures that research output will be relevant to
scholars interested in many of the themes to be discussed by workshop participants, including: a
genealogical analysis of (counter)radicalisation in a post-9/11 environment (Dr. Akil Awan);
representations of (counter)terrorism in popular culture and videogames (Dr. Nick Robinson);
what Peace Studies can learn from Critical Terrorism Studies (and vice-versa) (Mr. Stef
Wittendorp) and; the marginalisation of ‘poststructuralist’ approaches within prominent CTS
literature (Dr. James Fitzgerald).
As convenors, we have also agreed—with the permission of the speakers—to record the keynote
symposium and to make this available in both video and audio podcast form. These resources
will be made available on the forthcoming Critical Terrorism Studies website, as well as on its
official Facebook page. Proceedings from the workshop will be live-tweeted throughout from the
official Critical Terrorism Studies Twitter account—following positive feedback from livetweeting proceedings from the recent CTS Annual Conference in September 2014—thus
ensuring further exposure to a wide audience. We will also publish links to recorded material—
as well as an executive summary of proceedings, including an index of participants and paper
titles—on the popular International Studies blog Duck of Minerva. All research output arising
from the workshop will specifically acknowledge BISA sponsorship. Ultimately, it is hoped that
these measures will help to promote exposure to BISA, and the value of membership to the
6. Declaration
In submitting this proposal, we, the convenors, hereby confirm that all participants accept the
requirements relevant to BISA membership, and participation in the main BISA conference. All
participants have made a commitment to adhere to all relevant registration deadlines and
approved funding limits.
10 October 2014