Counter-Terrorism and Conspiracy

Historicizing the struggle against terrorism

Authored by: Beatrice de Graaf

The Routledge History of Terrorism

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415535779
eBook ISBN: 9781315719061
Adobe ISBN: 9781317514879


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To write a history of counter-terrorism pushes the limits of possibility even beyond the plausibility of producing a comprehensive history of terrorism. Terrorism is an “essentially contested concept.” 1 The term is almost always used as an attributed pejorative within a specific political and historical context and seldom provides a neutral description of the phenomenon as it lives and moves “out there.” Counter-terrorism, all the more so, reflects an explicit political strategy: that of defining and identifying (in that order) a type of violence in order to invoke special legal and administrative measures to neutralize and combat it. 2 Hence, counter-terrorism is not an easy category to work with. Even in scholarly work it is easy to unwittingly reinforce the existing political paradigm or lend a hand to oppressive counter-terrorist strategies intended to quell democratic opposition. 3

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