GOVERNING COUNTER-TERRORISM: Imaginaries of Radicalisation in the British War on Terror (2005-2020)

  • Itoiz Rodrigo Jusue

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

The UK’s Counter-terrorism strategy and its PREVENT programme (focused on stopping vulnerable people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism) has helped position radicalisation at the centre of counter-terrorism policy-making, academic research, and news and current affairs. This interdisciplinary thesis, situated in the field of cultural studies, draws on Michel Foucault’s concept of dispositif to trace the emergence and the establishment of radicalisation as a governing technology and as a social imaginary. Adopting a mixed method approach, including discourse analysis and interviews, this thesis examines radicalisation as a technology of governance embedded in the production and promotion of certain mentalities, conducts, identities, and subjectivities. The thesis examines the transformations that the figure of the terrorist has gone through since the early 2000s in the UK and it stresses the role of the media in the (re)production of imaginaries of terror. The argument overall is that the vocabularies and narratives of radicalisation are disseminated in popular culture and normalised within the population, establishing the new lens through which terrorism and political violence are comprehended and acted upon. The thesis contributes new knowledge by identifying the vulnerable subject, the radicalised individual, and the radicaliser as the new embodiments of abnormality and danger. The thesis also demonstrates how, together with the creation of idealised feminine security roles, myths about women involved in terrorism and political violence have been re-articulated through the narratives of vulnerability to radicalisation. Through an analysis of self-radicalisation discourses that create a causal link between the media and terrorism, the thesis considers how older theories of contagion have been revived and these have resulted in authoritarian measures that further (self)censorship and the criminalisation of speech. The thesis concludes by scrutinising the role of counter-terrorism in the production of agents and in the government of individuals’ conducts through the case study of the “CT citizen” and suggests a relation between the radicalisation assemblage and the acceptance of illiberal measures.
Date of Award6 Jul 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnita Biressi (Supervisor) & Carrie Hamilton (Supervisor)

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