Papers Essay

462 Words2 Pages
he study of political terrorism is one of the fastest growing areas of academic research in the English-speaking world, producing thousands of publications annually, as well as new study programmes, research projects, PhD theses, research institutes, think-tanks, conferences, seminars, and other academic activities. It was the events of 11 September 2001 that really galvanised the contemporary study of political terrorism and animated a whole new generation of scholars. As with any relatively new field of research and teaching, terrorism studies faces a number of conceptual, epistemological, and methodological problems and challenges.[1] Some of these problems include: the failure to develop rigorous theories —or even to agree on a definition or set of identifying criteria— for the field’s primary concept (there are over two hundred different definitions of ‘terrorism’ currently used in the literature); the treatment of ‘terrorism’ as an objective, ontologically stable phenomenon that can be studied unproblematically; an over-reliance on secondary sources and a frequent failure to undertake primary research, particularly in terms of face-to-face engagement with individuals and groups named as ‘terrorists’ (most terrorism ‘experts’ have never met a ‘terrorist’); a failure to appreciate the cultural-ideological biases inherent to Western academic and political discourses of terrorism; a restricted set of specific research topics within the field, including an over-emphasis on non-state forms of terrorism and the lack of research on state terrorism; a large number of new scholars since 11 September 2001 who lack adequate grounding in the extensive existing literature on the wider study of political violence and social movements; and a persistent tendency to treat the current terrorist threat facing certain Western states as unprecedented, highly threatening and

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