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“Exception” Bad
The affirmative’s reading of biopolitics through the jargon of
exception neutralizes the ability to resist state powerIgnorance of the origins of state power reproduces biopolitical
violence through a lack of democratization within and against
Jef Huysmans 8, Professor of Security Studies at the Open University,
5/8/2008, “The Jargon of Exception—On Schmitt, Agamben and the
Absence of Political Society”, International Political Sociology,
Contrasting Agamben’s reading of biopolitics with Foucault’s is instructive. Similarly to Agamben, Foucault’s work
on biopolitics, discipline and governmentality addresses the emergence and governance of life in its biological
existence as a form of power that considerably differs from legal-constitutional understandings of politics (Foucault
1976, 2004a,b). However, unlike Agamben this life is not an empty, that is, unmediated space or entity. In

life is rendered not primarily through “being freed” from the politicolegal order but by being constituted through, among others, the mediation of
technologies and professional knowledges. The invention of political economy, knowledge struggles
Foucault’s reading,

within psychiatry, the invention of history, etc. defined how modern life, its governance and its politics have been
constituted as a biopolitical dispositifs.
In analyzing how power operates through dispersed, fragmented practices that nevertheless weave a diagram of
constituting and governing societal relations, the total categories in which politics has been conceptualized in the
constitutional framing of exception—state versus society, law versus politics, sovereignty—collapse into a relational
picture of various expert discourses, professional knowledges, institutional practices governing a biological and

Instead of
being naked and anomic life, biopolitical life is constituted through an extremely
detailed mediation of social and individual being and is steeped in a
multidimensional history of strategic and tactical interactions . Not means without ends but
economic understanding of life, and a rich history of sociopolitical struggles (Foucault 1997, 2004a,b).

the patching into a dispositifs of multiple strategies of connecting means and ends that have been enacted and

While the central characteristic of Agamben’s
biopolitics is anomie, Foucault’s is extremely detailed and fragmented mediations
that produce, reproduce, and shift strategic, governmental practice and resistance
to it.
struggled over in a multiplicity of sites and times.

These latter struggles over knowledge, truth and governmental technologies and their
bearing upon social relations and individual being often are not articulated primarily within the field
of professional politicians and the state institutions . Politics as the contestation over the
collective structuring of relations between human beings and between them and their environment has “left” the

Politics becomes fragmented and dispersed
within the societal. One of the central realms of Foucaultian biopolitics is the
traveling and clustering of professional knowledge, skills and technologies, and the
formulation of counter-knowledge, skills and technologies, as the sociological interpretations of
state and has been absorbed by societal practices.

Foucault in the so-called governmentality literature have most explicitly brought out (Dean 1991, 1994, 1999;
Barry, Osborne, and Rose 1996; Hindess 1996; Rose 1999).

Unlike the jargon of exception, this Foucaultian reading does not interpret the
nature of modern politics from the perspective of its ultimate limit . As Marie Mühle's
reading of Agamben and Foucault shows, they fundamentally differ in that Foucault reads modern

politics from the inside—from the practices that have constituted it—while Agamben interprets the nature of modern politics from its absolute outside (Mühle 2007). Johns emphasizes the importance for biopolitical governance of the detailed and in a sense . in Foucault’s work. contestation of the protection of civil liberties. example. biopolitics does not enact anomie but its contrary: an extremely detailed governance and self-governance of relations between humans and between humans and their environment. for are not. and traditions of thinking the political. it seeks to understand democratic politics the absolute limit of democratic governance both in its liberal and social-democratic forms. Foucault sharply brings out this peculiarity of the jargon of exception. Both points of view conceptualize the political from the point of view of This thinking of democratic politics through its limit is a central characteristic of the jargon of exception (Bartelson 1997). Rather these debates insert questions of and challenges to the role of law and generalized norm-setting in highly charged biopolitical governance of insecurities.11 The idioms of exception and exception-as-the-rule seek to understand the nature of democratic politics from the perspective of its collapse. democratic government in Europe at least since the middle of the twentieth century. demands for re-negotiating balances between liberties and security are neither simply to be taken at face value as a matter of the necessity of balancing and rebalancing nor to be seen as the endgame of the validity of legal mediations of politics and life. For Agamben. the concentration camps. thus implying that a dialectic between norms and anomie. 1973. etc. As stated above. “the people” as a political societal multiplicity of relations and political practices. political transgression and law is not absent from the organization and governing practice in the camp. 1978. It is therefore not surprising that the key category of democratic politics. living conditions. thus taking exception to the erasure of the societal and the catastrophic conceptions of the political in the jargon of exception. sites of governance and contestations of knowledge and truth always consist of highly relational and heavily mediated practices. The question is not what the camps tell us about the nature of modern politics but rather how practices such as camps and therapeutic policies exist within democratic forms of governance that aim to optimize These histories. an ideological practice that hides the fundamental break down of the dialectic between law and anomie that has been central to modern politics (Agamben 2003:144–148). 1997). his interpretation draws us into the richness and transformations of biopolitical history through which modern governance and politics has developed Reading (Neal 2006). a multiplicity of places and times. define the matrix of modern politics (Agamben 1998). from sites and times where it no longer exists. slips out of the jargon of exception . Such a reading of biopolitics reintroduces the societal as a history. discriminations. that is. Unlike Schmitt and Agamben. and what the practices possibly tell us about if and how the dialectic between law and anomie operates in biopolitical governance. technologies. Unlike some other analyses that focus on constitutional transgressions and battles in the constitutional courts. debates about the reconciliation of liberty and security . Schmitt defines the nature of politics through the specter of dictatorship. This view of biopolitical relationality is not totalitarian because change and resistance are internally generated within biopolitics and therefore political life is not simply imposition through governance but always also necessarily struggles over knowledge. After all. as Agamben argues. Fleur Johns’s analysis of the camp in Guantanamo Bay is one such example Looked at from this perspective. She argues that the camp is penetrated by a form of norm setting. The relation to a total enemy and thus the possibility of total war as well as in the existence of an absolute normative vacuum in which the relation between norms and anomie can no longer be bridged but has to be reconstituted defines the “essence” of modern politics. loci where the exception has become the rule. Rather they open up a need to revisit the particular kind of work that law does and does not do in specific sites (Neocleous 2006). (Johns 2005). The concentration camp has been the reference point of the absolute limit of modern. such as camps. Foucault and improve life and constitute freedom as a defining category of subjects and governance (Mühle 2007). (for example. Instead of collapsing the dialectic between law and anomie.

The norm setting is thus not primarily constitutional but administrative.banal regulations that seek to structure the everyday practices of the guards. . the administrators and the prisoners.

but only as a “line” (1998: 122) that separates more or less clearly between bare life and political existence. that both domains have become indistinguishable. the tendentious identity of life and politics (1998: 122 resp.pdf the decision about life and death “no longer appears today as a stable border dividing two clearly distinct zones” (1998: 122). Agamben does not comprehend “camp” as an internally differentiated continuum. Genomics. 148). whereby his account does not focus on the normalisation of life. But this leads into a blind alley. No. the phrase seems to indicate that there is no longer a borderline at This is probably the direction that Agamben takes when he speaks of a “zone of indistinction”. This sentence allows for two completely For Agamben different readings. As a consequence. biopolitics is essentially “thanatopolitics” (1998: 122. If the accent is placed on the first part of the phrase that stresses the dissolution of a clear distinction line. as descending or ascending. Society and Policy.%20texte/A %20Zone3. how life can be classified and qualified as higher or lower. http://www. Vol. Fall 2005. Agamben cannot account for these processes since his attention is fixed on the establishment of a border – a border that he does not comprehend as a staggered zone but as a line without extension that reduces the question to an either-or. Fitzpatrick 2001: 263-265. 3. he cannot analyse how inside “bare life” hierarchisations and evaluations become possible. Werber 2002: 419). 1. but on death as the materialisation of a borderline. . the border is conceived as a flexible zone or a mobile line. For Agamben all. In other words: Agamben is less interested in life than in its “bareness”. ““A Zone of Indistinction” – A Critique of Giorgio Agamben’s Concept of Biopolitics”. Or – this is the second interpretation – if the accent is put on the last part of the phrase.Bare Life Impact D Bare Life oversimplifies-It is a matter of degree and value to life is still possible Thomas Lemke 5. Professor of Sociology at Goethe University

No. since the capacity and competence of decision-making is increasingly ascribed to the individual subject to make “informed choices” beyond political authoritarianism and medical paternalism. it is less the state that regulates by direct interventions and restrictions.No Solvency Aff can’t solve-“State of Exception” rests on an outdated view of politics that fails to account for a move to sovereign individuals as the tools of biopolitics Thomas Lemke 5. Today. and the political is as such immediately the biological given” (1998: 148. 1. Agamben’s analysis is too state-centred. Genomics. Koch 2002). He does not take into account that in contemporary liberal societies political power is exercised through a multiplicity of agencies and techniques that are often only loosely associated with the formal organs of the state. ““A Zone of Indistinction” – A Critique of Giorgio . or rather. Vol. No solvency-Their view of legal rights as the only way bare life can be created means that bare life will be reproduced in non legal ways Thomas Lemke 5. 3. Professor of Sociology at Goethe University Frankfurt. emphasis in orig.thomaslemkeweb. biopolitics today is becoming more and more a responsibility of sovereign subjects. Fall 2005. The self-regulating capacities of subjects as autonomous actors have become key resources for present forms of government that rely in crucial respects on forms of scientific expertise and knowledge (Rose/Miller 1992). the preoccupation with life is at the same time a struggle against the http://www. As autonomous patients.%20texte/A %20Zone3. Firstly. it relies on a limited conception of the state which does not take into account important political transformations since the Nazi era. Society and Policy. Agamben does not take into account that the site of sovereignty has been displaced. active consumers or responsible parents they demand medical or biotechnological options. Fall 2005.). Professor of Sociology at Goethe University Frankfurt. ““A Zone of Indistinction” – A Critique of Giorgio Agamben’s Concept of Biopolitics”. there are at least two major problems that this conception of biopolitics fails to address.pdf Agamben sees the novelty of the modern biopolitics in the fact that “the biological given is as such immediately political. While there are probably convincing reasons to state that in the present we are one step further on the way towards a politicisation of nature. Decisions on life and death are less the explicit result of legal provisions and political regulations but the outcome of an “invisible hand” that represents the options and practices of sovereign individuals (Lemke 2002b. While in the eugenic programs in the first half of the 20th century biopolitical interventions were mainly executed by the state that controlled the health of the population or the hygiene of the race. In the political program of the Nazis.

%20texte/A %20Zone3. or the “redundant”. it is blind (oblivious) to all the mechanisms operating beneath or beyond the law (see also Bröckling 2003). but must encompass all those who are confronted with social processes of exclusion – even if they may be formally enjoying full political rights: the “useless”. but its essence and destination. As a result of the crisis of the welfare state and Fordist modes of social integration. The analysis of biopolitics cannot be limited to those without legal rights. 3. Bare life is no longer simply subject to death. the “unnecessary”. Biopolitical mechanisms confront not only those who have been deprived of elementary rights and reduced to the status of living beings. more and different segments of the populations are effectively excluded not only from labour and the working process but from education. . Contemporary biopolitics is essentially political economy of life that is neither reducible to state agencies nor to the form of law. 1. No. http://www. In this light. Agamben ignores central aspects of contemporary biopolitics. politics is reduced to the production of homines sacri – a production that in a sense has to be called non-productive since bare life is only produced to be suppressed and today in a global economy these forms of exclusion can also be found in the industrialized centres. such as the refugee or the asylum seeker. Vol. Society and Policy. By concentrating on questions of law and the figure of the sovereign ban. it falls prey to a bioeconomical imperative that aims at the increase of life’s value and the optimalisation of its quality. Imbusch 2001). Genomics. Agamben’s concept of biopolitics remains inside the ban of sovereignty. While in the past these ominous figures inhabited only peripheral spaces in the so-called third and forth world.pdf *Edited for offensive language* Agamben’s concept of biopolitics is marked by a second weakness that also demonstrates his excessively legalistic approach. He takes for granted that the state of exception is not only the point of departure for politics. housing and social life (Castel 2000.Agamben’s Concept of Biopolitics”. But biopolitical interventions cannot be limited to registering the opposition of bare life and political existence.thomaslemkeweb.

as critical theorists such as Richard Devetak have argued. “Critique. For all its undoubted empirical relevance. If Agamben allows us to interpret the 'state of exception' that is currently being advocated by the Australian and other executives. given their extreme and illiberal nature. OR AGAINST A RECENT (THEORETICAL AND LEGAL) RETURN TO CARL SCHMITT”. Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Leicester.1085435 4?journalCode=rfem20#. Feminist L.Law Good Their critique of the law has no solvent alternative system Matthew Sharpe 6. Aff can’t solve-No way to challenge current power structures Tara McCormack 10.2006.VbzwCflViko Arguably the most worrying question that can be asked about the passage of Australia's antiterrorism laws..tandfonline. and arguing that emergency jurisprudence is more or less necessary and universal in later modernity. http://www. this is neither because. he also strays perilously close . I have argued that Agamben proffers a theory which uncannily mirrors the justificatory apparatus of the postmodern-conservative or neoconservative governments of the USA and Australia. from the very beginning'.. I commented in the Introduction. In the preceding chapters I have argued that critical approaches cannot pose a challenge to contemporary power relations. “'THINKING OF THE EXTREME SITUATION .J. is simply the absence of any more concerted public opposition to them.friendfeedmedia.. 24 Austl. Security and Power: The political limits to emancipatory approaches”. ' ON THE NEW ANTI-TERRORISM LAWS. The key claim of critical and emancipatory theorists is to pose a challenge to contemporary global power structures. 2006. This essay has addressed this question in the theoretical field. However. by critically examining Giorgio Agamben's influential legal and political a logic familiar since at least The Dialectic of Enlightenment . Professor of political philosophy and psychoanalytic studies at Deakin University's School of International and Political Studies. m.1080/13200968. 13 9 By taking the extreme situation as yielding the truth of law. Agamben's work deleteriously hypostasizes the profoundly reactionary legal theory of Carl Schmitt to the elevated rank of that which would tell us the Truth not only of our current malaise but of -Western politics .com/48db0c148fff1c2b0524b6226fde42760e83ab67 In the preceding chapters I have attempted to develop an argument about the political limits to critical and emancipatory approaches to contemporary international critical theorists need to ensure that they .to explaining away any possibility that we could actually do anything more about it than to 'bunker down' and hope for the advent of some redemptive politics 'beyond law' altogether. Routledge Critical Security Studies.. 2010. I have argued. that is. 95.

Critical and emancipatory theorists are engaging in an exercise in idealism. This suggests that contrary to the claims of contemporary critical and emancipatory theorists they are not engaging in the ‘here and now’. and in chapters 4–6 with critical approaches to the Yugoslav break-up and wars.maintain a distance from interventionist policies (2007) nor because. Within major international institutions. and argued that for contemporary critical and emancipatory theorists the source of critical engagement was in their own moral values rather than engagement with structures of power. but universal rights. and in the policy and policy discourse of states the old certainties of the pluralist security framework were being subjected to critique and redefinition at the highest level of international policy making. There are theoretical and political limits to contemporary critical and emancipatory approaches which mean that whatever the intent of contemporary critical theorists they cannot pose a challenge to contemporary power structures or . because their critique is not driven by an engagement with contemporary power structures. However. the work has sought to draw out the problematic political assumptions of critical and emancipatory theorists and similarities with contemporary security policies and rhetoric. “It's a Powerful Life: A Conversation on Contemporary Philosophy”. This points to a serious theoretical limit to contemporary critical and emancipatory approaches. and critique of. such as the UN. Rather. Rather. 2007). http://www. in chapters 1–3 I engaged with contemporary critical and emancipatory approaches to security. as radical critics have argued. In chapter 3 I explored this theoretical problem in more depth. In fact. security policies and discourses are much similar than otherwise to the prescriptions of critical security theorists. In chapter 2 I put critical and emancipatory theory in its contemporary context. this is shown because their critique is not rooted in an engagement with. contemporary structures and discourses of power. and argued that critical theorists were engaging with a security framework which has decreasing relevance in the contemporary context. Spring 2004. and that more cosmopolitan forms of international organisation should be constructed. Interviewed by Cesare Casarino. the critique of critical theorists is little more than a statement of their own moral values. Cultural Critique.jstor. This argument was explored in two ways. Italian Moral and Political Philosopher. Associate Professor Of Cultural Studies And Comparative Literature At The University Of Minnesota. critical theorists are simply the theoretical wing of liberal interventionism (Douzinas. This suggests that critical and emancipatory theorists are idealistic. In chapter 1 I drew out the central arguments of contemporary critical and emancipatory theorists that security needs to be reconceptualised in terms of human freedom and well being. Their critique fails-Forces within the law can transform it Antonio Negri 4. in which human rights and dignity should not be a matter of chance depending upon which state a person happens to be born in. engaging with structures and discourses of contemporary power must be fundamental to the task of posing a challenge to those power relations and structures.

What interests me for the moment is to note that in those pages on poverty you also engage with the question of nakedness. and. one way of understanding what Spinoza means when he says that one must free oneself from the fear of death and that nobody is more free. rather. it occurred to me that your insistence on the question of nakedness here is a reference and a reply to the nakedness of Agamben's naked life. the concept of constituent power also turns out to mark a crucial difference between your project and Agamben's project. And the type of problems he runs into in this book recur throughout many of his other works. you write that. that you produce the concept of poverty. that originally as a little book that also contained Deleuze's essay on Bartleby: well. In the end. is a purely negative critique: what I mean by this is not that he criticizes the substance of what I say about constituent power. AN: Yes. you discuss at length the question of poverty. and I am glad that you noticed it. far from being an object constituted by the suffering inflicted by biopolitics. cc: But let's return one last time to the question of naked life. the productivity-that derives from having overcome this limit is the creativity of absolute freedom in the Spinozian sense. inasmuch as it is death. This is. the conclusions he draws in Homo Sacer lead to dangerous political outcomes and that the burden of finding a way out of this mess rests entirely on him. The limit is creative to the extent to which you have been able to overcome it qua death: the limit is creative because you have overcome death. I still maintain. to give it a form-by some sort of paradoxical juxtaposition. cc: Could you be more specific? . that he believes it is not even advisable to look for a solution to this problem at all. the zenith of creativity. that "the poor are the naked eternity of the power [potenza] to be. or. he gets quite irritated. to find a figure for it." I want to return to this concept later. Such nakedness is always already there as element of being. the poor are precisely the biopolitical subject. that it is not possible to sustain or even to posit any separation between them anyway. absence of the fear of death is at once absolute freedom and untrammeled productivity. Alma Venus. I found his essay on Bartleby. cc: And hence it is part and parcel of constituent power-the concept with which we began this conversation and which you claim differentiates your project from Foucault's as well as from Deleuze and Guattari's projects. This essay was published nonetheless. necessarily guaranteeing it ). one could say that you elaborate there a specific conception of poverty. in other words. moreover. he critiques the way in which you separate constituent power and constituted power from each other in that work: he maintains that you are not able to find a plausible criterion according to which a distinction between these two powers can be made. I completely agree: the fact that I took this term up again and redeployed it is a clear indication of Giorgio's presence and influence in my work-and I must say I am pleased about it. Multitudo. Agamben has commented on this matter. but I don't think that this attempt was really successful in the end. what I mean. At one point. Heidegger tells us the contrary. exchange. that moment of absolute freedom that is the absence of the fear of death constitutes the indispensable condition of possibility for such an exponential leap in expression. perhaps. it turns out that what Deleuze says in his essay is exactly the contrary of what Giorgio says in his! I suppose one could say that they decided to publish their essays together precisely so as to attempt to figure this limitthat is. In your recent book Kairbs. and. you often speak of the nakedness of poverty. for example. is that he does not want to solve this problem. Unsurprisingly. he briefly discusses your Insurgencies. in fact. The point is that. in particular. cc: Yes. What do you think about such a critique? Giorgio has always tried to show how juridical categories as well as the juridical as a category cannot be raised or made to answer to coherent metaphysical criteria. AN: I am not really sure.AN: Whenever I tell him what I have just finished telling you. more precisely. cc: What is the nature of the exchange in this specific case? What is the difference between the nakedness of poverty and the nakedness of naked life? AN: The nakedness of poverty is immediately linked to love. furthermore. In any case. discussion between Giorgio and myself. even angry. namely. and more dangerous than somebody who no longer fears death: in Spinoza. I find this type of critique to be rather banal. Undoubtedly. there is always ongoing dialogue. in Spinoza. all this incessant talk about the limit bores me and tires me out after a little while. In Homo Sacer. more powerful. in fact. creation (without. the limit is not creative. absolutely infuriating. production. His critique. and."12 As I was reading these passages. to a positive power [potenzal. AN: And while Spinoza tells us to free ourselves from the presence of death. that is. and the creativity-indeed. the expression of the most creative potentials. for example.

and. been recognized and validated by constituted power. constituent power paradoxically can take two forms at once: on the one hand. All jurists argue that constituent power does not exist unless it is codified. in fact. that it ruptures the juridical system and its continuity. it lives inside the Law.Giorgio's main critique of my positions consists of arguing that constituent power and constituted power cannot be distinguished from each other according to any juridical-political criterion. on the other hand. it lives outside the Law. my analysis of AN: constituent power begins precisely from this problem. Well. that is. . thank you very much! That's entirely obvious-and. therefore. in the form of the Supreme Court's power to innovate the legal system [ordinamento giuridico]. that it cannot come into being unless it has According to such arguments.

Off Case .

Terror DA .

Their ambitions may not be entirely ‘emancipatory’ (Linklater 1996). many terrorism scholars do not hesitate to tell governments bluntly that unpopular certain foreign policy choices (such as the US invasion of Iraq or the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza) generate terrorism. For example. 1. or suggest uncomfortable truths to those in power. David Rapoport (Co-editor of Terrorism and Political Violence). but neither are they content to accept the world as it is. were solely interested in telling comforting lies to those in power. School of International Relations. Many of the serious scholars who work in this field are sympathetic to the normative goals that CTS scholars espouse. International Center for the Study of Terrorism. 1.” Critical Studies On Terrorism. Pennsylvania State University. is misleading.4 In fact. But these are not representative of the serious scholars in the field. (Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy (2004)5 The list included such well-known terrorism experts as Jessica Stern. the study of terrorism has been influenced by the logic of ‘problem-solving’ theory and includes a strong dose of instrumental rationality. over 700 security studies scholars in the USA and elsewhere signed their names to a case which included the following: We judge that the current American policy centered around the war in Iraq is the most misguided one since the Vietnam period. and even those who do not adopt the language of critical theory often work with the same social. No. One result has been a great distortion in the terms of public debate on foreign and national security policyan emphasis on speculation instead of facts. . Andrews. they would shy away from these uncomfortable facts and would certainly not publicly identify themselves with such an openly critical stance. and Mia Bloom. Department of Psychology. “A Case Against Critical Terrorism Studies. Moreover. in depth study to prove terror threats real Michael J. Wilkinson 1977. p. political and moral purpose of advancing social justice as CTS scholars. and that addressing pervasive economic and social inequalities is an essential part of counter-terrorism. Vol. 51-64 We believe this is overstating the case. one which harms the cause of the struggle against extreme Islamist terrorists. Like much of political science. many of the ‘embedded experts’ identified by name in existing CTS work have deep liberal concerns for economic and social justice (Hoffman 2007. and subsequent revisions). If terrorism scholars. in a 2004 ‘Open Letter to the American People’. and. Let us be clear: within the broad community of self-ascribed terrorism ‘experts’ there are some charlatans who will do whatever they need to get close to power and to solve problems for them. But to imply that all those working within an empirical tradition of research in terrorism studies do not challenge the status quo. University of St. and are unafraid to speak truth to power when needed. including these.AT Terror Reps/Security K Our scholarship is sound-It uses unbiased. April 2008. Boyle and John Horgan 8.

University of St. The point of their handbook was to sharpen . But this fact was well recognized by the authors. or produce a broadly progressive outcome (McDonald 2007. For example. and for some purpose. 51-64 Jackson (2007c) calls for the development of an explicitly CTS on the basis of what he argues preceded it.Serious and reflective scholars of terrorism also do not deny the observation that theory is often for some one. Vol. Jackson argues that the major defining characteristic of CTS. p. on the other hand. April 2008. dubbed ‘Orthodox Terrorism Studies’. Some of those scholars most associated with the critique of empiricism implied in ‘Orthodox Terrorism Studies’ have also engaged in deeply critical examinations of the nature of sources. as well as definitional and methodological problems. Horgan 2005. beyond the basic point that ‘emancipation’ would involve strengthening the voices of moderation and increasing the political voice of some dissident groups (McDonald 2007. International Center for the Study of Terrorism. and data in the study of terrorism. No. “A Case Against Critical Terrorism Studies. So the analytic value of this maddeningly vague notion of emancipation in this instance is not yet obvious to us. How exactly does attacking the concept of ‘terrorism’ generate greater prospects for freedom in existing social relations. should be ‘a skeptical attitude towards accepted terrorism “knowledge”’. 257)?6 In part due to the fact that CTS advocates have not yet made their ontological and epistemological commitments or their intellectual debts within critical theory clear. Pennsylvania State University. What they do not share is the explicit normative and ideological commitment to ‘emancipation’. but not unique to CTS in any respect. Gordon 1999. p. Crenshaw 1998. and (4) its institutional and intellectual links to state security projects. he suggests. School of International Relations. in the introduction of the second edition they point out that they have not revised their chapter on theories of terrorism from the first edition. how ‘emancipation’ would be achieved. certainly. In fact. terrorism scholars are not only well aware of these problems. (2) its state centricity. esp. Andrews. ‘Understanding Terrorism’). One of our chief concerns about CTS is that the precise meaning of this commitment to emancipation has not been made clear. 1. but also have provided their own searching critiques of the field at various points during the last few decades (e. Department of Psychology. and. Silke 1996.” Critical Studies On Terrorism.g. indeed. An implicit presumption from this is that terrorism scholars have laboured for all of these years without being aware that their area of study has an implicit bias. 257). Jackson (2007a) regularly cites the handbook produced by Schmid and Jongman (1988) to support his claims that theoretical progress has been limited. methods. The latter. because the failure to address persistent conceptual and data problems has undermined progress in the field. it remains unclear just who has agency in their account. (3) its problem solving orientation. ch. 1. however defined. Our Terrorism studies are best-Self-Reflexivity Michael J. and to what substantive normative and political goals ‘emancipation’ is directed. 2. p. Boyle and John Horgan 8. is characterized by: (1) its poor methods and theories. These are worthwhile goals.

. and ideologically – with a state hegemonic project’ (p. respectively). and. For example. civil society than just governments and security services. In other words. Similarly. we are in agreement with some CTS scholars. xiv). A non-reflective community of scholars does not produce such scathing indictments of its own work. where they are. but it is just a different prince.” Critical Studies On Terrorism. and that this can influence the direction (and even the findings) of the research. And of course. He recognizes that CTS can (and should) aim to be policy-relevant. critics have attacked scholarship on terrorism for its bias and ‘silences’ long before critical theory was imported into its study. Gunning provides a sensitive analysis of this problem. One might counter that the problem is in fact that scholars of terrorism are not sufficiently self-critical in the theoretically informed way that CTS aims to be. Vol. politically. 1. including non-governmental organizations (NGOs). there are certainly instances of scholars working in terrorism studies who appear to be unaware or less than critical of their theoretical foundations or who do not frame their criticisms in theoretically informed language. but perhaps to a different audience. and calls on CTS advocates to come to terms with how they can engage policy-makers without losing their critical distance. But we are suspicious of over-generalizations of this count on two grounds: (1) accepting government funding or information does not necessarily obviate one’s independent scholarly judgment in a particular project. Boyle and John Horgan 8. his arguments are tantamount to conjecture at best. what they do. But it is not the case that the critiques offered by CTS on this point are novel. in particular the lack of rigorous primary data collection. and further some of the most trenchant criticisms of terrorism studies come without the language and assumptions of critical theory (George 1991. 245). there are some sweeping generalizations made by CTS scholars.and make more comprehensive the result of research on terrorism. Pennsylvania State University. No. 51-64 One of the tensions within CTS concerns the issue of ‘policy relevance’. not to glide over its methodological and definitional failings (Schmid and Jongman 1988. Mueller 2006. Without giving any details of who these ‘core’ scholars are. International Center for the Study of Terrorism. Prefer our studies-Our scholars use rigorous methodology and policy relevance is good Michael J. Jackson (2007c) describes ‘the core terrorism scholars’ (without explicitly saying who he is referring to) as ‘intimately connected – institutionally. and exactly who funds them. often with little evidence. CTS aims to whisper into the ear of the prince. April 2008. School of International Relations. highlighting the shortcomings of the field. Department of Psychology. University of St. On the first point. We do not deny that governments fund terrorism research and terrorism researchers. Andrews. p. 1. “A Case Against Critical Terrorism Studies. p. At the most basic level. financially. Silke’s (2004) volume on the state of the field of terrorism research performed a similar function. and (2) having policy relevance is not always a sin.

provided that they retain their independent judgment and report their findings candidly and honestly. how will it be done. neither of us has any problem producing research with a morally defensible but policy relevant goal (for example. The task of the scholar is to retain one’s sense of critical judgment and integrity. 240). Such a suspicion may blind some CTS scholars to good work done by those associated with the state. But simply engaging with governments on discrete projects does not make one an ‘embedded expert’ nor does it imply sanction to their actions. The assumption that those who do not practice CTS are all ‘embedded’ with the ‘establishment’ and that this somehow gives the green light for states to engage in illegal activity is in our view unwarranted. we would go further to argue that being policy relevant is in some instances an entirely justifiable moral choice. We agree entirely with this. for ‘just because a piece of research comes from RAND does not invalidate it. But to assume that being ‘embedded’ in an institution linked to the ‘establishment’ consists of being captured by a state hegemonic project is too simple. What matters here are the details of the research – what is the purpose of the work. Jackson (2007c) alleges that ‘the direction of domestic counter-terrorism policies’ are ‘to a large degree based on orthodox terrorism studies research’ (p. let alone evidence for this claim. indeed.Gunning (2007a) also argues that research should be assessed on its own merits. The scholar must also be mindful of the responsibility they bear for shaping a government’s response to the problem of terrorism. to say the very least. Not all sponsored or contract research is made to ‘toe a party line’. but equally we do not believe that being policy relevant should always be interpreted as writing a blank cheque for governments or as necessarily implicating the scholar in the behaviour of that government on issues unrelated to one’s work. and we believe that there is no prima facie reason to assume that this cannot be done in sponsored research projects. and much of the work coming out of official government agencies or affiliated government agencies has little agenda and can be analytically useful. 225). The limits of this moral responsibility are overlooked in current CTS work. helping the British government to prevent suicide bombers from attacking the London Underground) and we do not believe that engaging in such work tarnishes one’s stature as an independent scholar. conversely. a “critical” study is not inherently good’ (p. Working for the US government. how might the work be used in policy – and for these questions the scholar must be self-critical and insistent on their intellectual autonomy. Yet he provides no examples. For example. Implicit in the CTS literature is a deep suspicion about the state and those who engage with it. We do not believe that scholars studying terrorism must all be policy-relevant. In the case of terrorism. if anything there is an attempt to inflate the policy relevance that terrorism scholars have. Nothing – not the source of the funding. But we also believe that the study of political violence lends itself to policy relevance and that those who seek to produce research that might help policymakers reduce the rates of terrorist attack are committing no sin. for instance. Jackson further . purpose of the research or prior empirical or theoretical commitment – obviates the need of the scholar to consider his or her own conscience carefully when engaging in work with any external actor. does not imply that the scholar sanctions or approves of the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.

and with appropriate. Limited. The ‘core set of concerns’ have already been articulated by the very people CTS advocates identify with the ‘orthodoxy’. In some instances. but also that those engaged in terrorism research sanction abuse of human rights and state directed violence. rendered or incarcerated by the state in the name of counter-terrorism’ (p. and. which presumably is bereft of such concerns. Pennsylvania State University. International Center for the Study of Terrorism. thus undermining the claim that CTS is fundamentally ‘different’. 1. No. but also to demonstrate how the concerns implicitly claimed to be characteristic of CTS.alleges ‘terrorism studies actually provides an authoritative judgment about who may legitimately be killed. do not constitute valid grounds on which to develop assertions about the scope and focus of research in this field in 2007. transparent. . “A Case Against Critical Terrorism Studies. This implies a measure of bad faith on the part of some terrorism researchers. Boyle and John Horgan 8. designed to reclaim ‘terrorism’ from ‘orthodox terrorism scholarship’ and to insist on a different interpretation of its context and causes. This implies that not only is there a secret cabal of terrorism researchers quietly pulling the strings of government. The criticism breaks down intellectual cooperation and creates false dualisms that wreck progress Michael J. It is manifestly clear from the papers produced under the CTS banner so far that this is an intellectual project. Vol. we believe that the case for CTS has been built on an aggressive reading of the most easily identifiable limitations of the progress of terrorism research. 226). Andrews. We do not believe this case has been fully made in work published so far. based in part on research surveys conducted in the 1980s. the onus of responsibility is on its advocates to make a clear case for not only how this is justified. Department of Psychology. This raises the question of why we need an explicitly CTS approach at all. 51-64 Jackson and his colleagues argue ‘the case for critical terrorism studies depends in the first instance on a credible and compelling critique of the current state of orthodox terrorism studies’ (Jackson 2007c. tortured. p. University of St. are sufficient to distinguish it from what it says is the ‘orthodoxy’. We are not yet convinced. April 2008. But in calling for the establishment of an explicitly ‘critical’ terrorism studies. and clearly articulated evidence. p. but perhaps we are not so different after all. 1. there is a tension here: Jackson conjures an image of terrorism studies which no matter its conceptual and empirical flaws is somehow able to influence governments to the point of constructing who is and is not a legitimate target. the natural limits of the data). narrowly selective literature reviews. 249). Again. School of International Relations. and has downplayed the difficulties associated with research (specifically.” Critical Studies On Terrorism. and we believe that CTS advocates should offer a more nuanced portrayal of those engaged in policy relevant search than this assessment allows. It might be difficult for some proponents of CTS to accept.

among others (Walker 1993. inter-disciplinary – though often flawed or imperfect – field of study. No. ghettoised subfield. also Rengger and ThirkellWhite 2007. International Center for the Study of Terrorism. For better or worse. One particularly strand of critical theory – represented in International Relations by the work of Rob Walker – is focused on breaking down false dualisms. (Jackson 2007b. multi-disciplinary. and. Andrews. and are concerned about the: potentially fraught intellectual struggle and there are many dangers along the way.” Critical Studies On Terrorism. that is. This raises an unsettling question. of scholars) that does not exclude alternative views? Jackson and others recognize this problem. But we have to ask the fundamental question: why create the dualism in the first place. School of International Relations. p. and what has emerged as a critique of today’s terrorism research is not convincing to . 10). Department of Psychology. time/space. 1. 51-64 The call for an explicitly CTS carries with it the assumption that is represents a departure from what can only be assumed to be uncritical terrorism studies. Our studies use robust methodology and bear no resemblance to the warmongering they critique Michael J. Will the creation of CTS – as a mirror image of ‘terrorism studies’ in its critique of the field – just replicate another unhelpful dualism? Is this not at odds with the point of critical theory. “A Case Against Critical Terrorism Studies. April 2008. like inside/outside. we agree. p. to embrace open dialogue and to envisage a community (in this case. but that through rigorous and respectful dialogue the broader field is invigorated and revitalized. research work on terrorism is growing at exponential rates. It will be the responsibility of both “critical” and “orthodox” terrorism scholars to ensure that this does not occur. 250). Pennsylvania State University. not least that CTS will fail to engage with Orthodox Terrorism Studies scholars and security officials and instead evolve into an exclusionary and marginalized. Boyle and John Horgan 8. we believe that some CTS advocates have – rather ironically – created a false dualism. 1. What CTS has produced so far is not always grounded in a fairminded appraisal of a complex. Vol. and we hope that this critical reading of the current CTS work is taken in that light. yet in some CTS accounts it finds itself criticized for failing to meet standards ‘it’ could not possibly aspire to be even if ‘it’ wanted. University of St. p. p. CTS advocates will need to engage seriously and fairly with the rest of ‘us’ in their research. identity/difference. Jackson’s allegation that he has laid out the basis for a ‘multi-level critique of the field’ is not yet convincing to us (Jackson 2007c. between ‘them’ and ‘us’ which overlooks the similarities between both camps. This is a field rife with conceptual development. But to do this they will need to offer a respectful but critical reading of current research on terrorism.Instead. 227) On this point. by fostering a camp of scholars with strong prior theoretical or ideological commitments if it leads scholars with the same goals to not engage seriously with one another? To avoid this outcome. We will do our best to promote the same respectful dialogue.

php/pot/article/view/83/ht ml In the late 1960s traditional War and Peace Studies were challenged on the European continent by "critical polemologists". there really is no ‘orthodoxy’ worthy of the name to be found. For many of the CTS scholars "objective social science …is a hegemonic project to sustain the status quo" (H. but only with a full review of the literature without undue theoretical or ideological prejudices (literally. Perspectives on Terrorism. throughout the history of research on terrorism over the past forty years." (p. The challenge facing CTS is to offer a fully informed theoretical position. http://www. Furthermore. in their introduction "the orthodox field" of orthodox terrorism studies of functioning "ideologically in the service of existing power structures". But as we have attempted to demonstrate in the preceding discussion. Today. and of course these can (and should) be debated and challenged. No. Jackson and other CTS advocates are correct. And we say to CTS proponents directly – if this is done. "Orthodox Terrorism Studies" are challenged by "Critical Terrorism Studies" (CTS) . p. especially recently.those familiar with the progress that terrorism research has made. any ‘orthodoxy’ should be challenged. Ideology plays a large role such disputes. they claim that orthodox scholars are frequently being used "to legitimise coercive intervention in the global South…. and with due respect to the efforts of those CTS advocates claim represent a different set of concerns and values than they do. The "critical" refers principally but not exclusively to the "Frankfurt-via-Welsh School . 227). Vol.6). The critical polemologists who criticised almost exclusively NATO but not the Warsaw Pact have disappeared long ago. Schmid 9. you will discover that you have more in common with us than you believe. Gunning. of course. 106) while "CTS is at heart an anti-hegemonic project" (R.Toros & J. or set of related positions. 2009. but this is a much more general point and not reducible to a single portrayal of ‘terrorism studies’. University of Leiden. p. senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Conflicts. with their academic research. Jackson et al. We believe that a critical theory approach to terrorism studies can deliver such a theoretical position. Critical Terrorism Studies tend to be equally one-eyed by being "critical" mainly about Western counter-terrorism rather than focusing also on non-state There may well be some methodological orientations or theoretical overtures that aspire to dominance. The terror threat is real and increasing-Their studies are not based in facts Alex P. They also happen to be editors of a new Routledge journal "Critical Studies on Terrorism' . The editors accuse. The present volume is edited by three authors associated with the Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Contemporary Political Violence (CSRV) in the Department of International Politics in Aberystwyth (Wales. prejudgments). 3. UK). 4.

Part of the volume advocates reinventing the wheel. J. In that sense. In this sense. highly debatable and unstable" (p. They both rightfully criticize some of the past sins and present shortcomings of the field of Terrorism Studies.80). however. this volume falls within a Western tradition. 'half-truths' and contested claims…biased towards Western state priorities" (p. Richard Jackson claims that "…most of what is accepted as well-founded 'knowledge' in terrorism studies is.121). Such disagreements. state that "the sine qua non of Critical Theory is emancipation" (p.Critical Theory Perspective". it is not going to be achieved by using an alternative discourse on terrorism and counter-terrorism. there is not a single word on the non-emancipated position of women under Islam in general or among the Taliban and their friends from al-Qaeda in particular. self-criticism should not come at the cost of not criticising adversaries by using the same yardstick. for .77). coerce or otherwise manipulate various audiences and parties to a conflict. including those of the terrorism studies field" (pp. that "terrorism is fundamentally a product of social inequality and state politics" (p. For him "terrorism is…a social fact rather than a brute fact" and "…does not exist outside of the definitions and practices which seek to enclose it. argues. in itself. Sluka. the claim by some critical theorists that the field of traditional Terrorism Studies is ossified without them. dismissing thereby almost four decades of scholarship as "based on a series of 'virulent myths'. One of the problems with many of the adherents of the "critical" school is that the focus is almost exclusively on the strawman they set up to shoot . the United Nations.75-76). this volume is strangely silent about the worldview of those terrorists who have no self-doubts and attack the Red Cross.A.74). However. There is. NGOs and their fellow Muslims with equal lack of scruples. 139). contributors of another chapter. Gunning. in fact. McDonald als puts "emancipation as central to the study of terrorism" (p. and currently Director of the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College) and Andrew Silke (formerly with the UK Home Office and now Field Leader for Criminology at the University of East London). However."orthodox" terrorism discourse rather than on the practitioners of terrorism. The programmatic introduction of the editors is followed by two solid chapters from Magnus Ranstorp (former Director of CSTPV. Behind many of the critical theorists who blame mainstream terrorism research for taking 'the world as it finds it' there is an agenda for changing the status quo and overthrowing existing power structures. without offering any proof. The twelve contributors are not all equally "critical" in a Habermasian sense. One of the strength (some argue weakness) of Western thinking is its ability for self-criticism – something largely absent in the Muslim world. He objects to prevailing "problem-solving theories of terrorism" in favour of an approach that questions " the status quo and the dominant acts within it" (p. 99) and M. J. A number of authors in the volume appear to equate terrorism uncritically with political violence in general while in fact it is more usefully thought of as one of some twenty sub-categories of political violence . However. Another contributor. is simply is not true. St. In that sense. One of them approvingly quotes Marc Sageman who observed that "disagreements among experts are the driving force of the scientific enterprise".one characterized by deliberate attacks on civilians and non-combatants in order to intimidate. Andrews. Toros and Gunning. nothing wrong with wanting a new and better world order. exist among "orthodox" scholars like Sageman and Hoffman or Pape and Abrams.

No. is responsible for this. Critical Theory and the 'Naturalistic Fallacy'. He makes no reference to an understanding of historical ‘becoming’ or unidirectional history. Parashar state "The September 11 attacks and the ongoing war on terror reinforce gender hierarchy and power in international relations" (p. only one reference to a Horkheimer-authored work can be found. Many "critical" statements in the volume are unsupported by convincing evidence. see Wyn Jones. when C. if they get their way.224) It does not seem to occur to him that he could have studied this question by looking at the practitioners of terrorism and study al-Qaeda's ideological writings and its training and recruiting manuals. As there are limited grounds on which to base an acceptance of Horkheimerian philosophy of history. CTS academics should be the first on the barricades against jihadists who treat women not as equals and who would. The occasionally vaunted method of ‘pearl fishing’ utilized by the two research agendas (see Toros & Gunning. where slices of arguments and devices are appropriated without regard for the whole context. 492). The responsibility of the pearl-fishing method for this error is clear: when one checks the bibliography of the Critical Terrorism Studies edited collection.190). Donatella della Porta. 2009: 88. Vol.” Security Dialogue. however. 1999: 38–39). 3 Critical Terrorism Studies – and Critical Security Studies. .instance. 228). Their knowledge base is useless-Filled with logical fallacies and missapropriation of knowledge Charlotte Heath-Kelly 10. CTS embraces emancipatory practice for normative reasons. The lack of attention paid to Horkheimer’s wider philosophy is responsible for CTS’s ignorance of the conception of historical progress that crucially underpins the theme of emancipation. Reasearch Fellow. except that they maintained a much transformed and limited idea of emancipation concerning the development of human mutuality with nature. Jackson et al. e. for that matter – show no cognizance of the direction accorded to history by Horkheimer’s attachment of materialism to idealism. Of all the CTS and CSS scholars.g. but not within a conception of historical becoming as revealed by the ‘law which holds sway in the apparent arbitrariness of the scientific and other endeavours’ (Horkheimer. 41. e.g. p. Ken Booth (2007: 127–130) devotes the most attention to the conception of progress – understanding moral progress to be visible in retrospective comparison. However. that theory has been employed already explicitly or implicitly by a number of more orthodox scholars. 2007: 39. 1982: 8–9). eradicate freedom of thought and religion for all mankind. Adorno and Horkheimer. Booth. University of Warwick. Sylvester and S. Jackson claims that the key question for critical terrorism theory is "who is terrorism research for and how does terrorism knowledge support particular interests?" (p. recommends to employ Social Movement Theory for the study of terrorism. we must reject the Frankfurt School basis for objective reason and emancipation (as subsequently did the major Frankfurt scholars. “Critical Terrorism Studies. It is sad that some leading proponents of Critical Terrorism Studies appear to be in fact uncritical and blind on one eye. June 2010. If CTS is a call for "making a commitment to emancipatory praxis central to the research enterprise" (R.

alongside its Coxian foundations. While the pearl-fishing method can often be acceptable academic practice. Its use of the ‘pearl-fishing method’ (see Toros & Gunning. has – I argue – resulted in the inappropriate transition of emancipatory commitment without the philosophical context that made it intelligible. 2007: 39. here it has led – it is argued – to logical errors in the formulation of emancipation within international relations. in a Coxian manner – possibly exposing itself to the ‘naturalistic fallacy’ charge. 2009: 88. Booth.CTS (and Critical Security Studies. where useful argumentative and theoretical devices are appropriated from diverse literatures. scholars appear to fall prey to the naturalistic fallacy. for that matter) shows no signs of recognizing the presence of a philosophy-of-history approach and utilizes Horkheimerian theory. 492). . Without regard for the philosophical grounding of emancipatory commitment within Horkheimer’s philosophy of history.