JUPS-402-01 Critical Studies on Political Violence: Terrorist Voices
Spring for 2013-2014
The discourse and study of terrorism is based around a strict interpretation of good versus evil, legitimate versus illegitimate, minority over majority, and the radical socio-political movement versus the government. Through a lens carefully crafted by State and corporate interests, violent acts are explained as ‘insane, senseless acts of extremism.’ We are given explanations devoid of context, political explanation, or personal history. In this course, students will explore why individual actors and movements carry out acts of political violence. Instead of only reading academic and government agency explanations, students will explore the narratives offered by the terrorists themselves. The aim of the course is to understand non-State actors from a variety of perspectives including academic, popular media, political theory, and so-called ‘insider accounts’ of radical movements. While we will be sure to cover the key texts of terrorism studies, we will draw mainly from primary source documents penned by terrorists, insurgents, revolutionaries, and a variety of militants.
Though the course will cover the methods and strategies of al-Qaeda, Hamas and other contemporary news makers, it will focus on first-hand accounts from revolutionary leftists, animal liberationists, ‘eco-terrorists,’ Christian militants, right wing anti-government militiamen, and all those in between. Through an in-depth examination of terrorist communiqués, propaganda videos, inter-movement magazines, contemporary news events, and political theory texts, the course will explore modern asymmetric warfare. The course seeks to decipher, interpret and challenge the dominant, State-centric perspective on terrorism traditionally offered by academic disciplines such as security-studies, government, and international affairs. In addition, we seek to answer the questions, ‘Who gets to define terrorism,’ and ‘What constitutes violence and legitimate force?’ This course will function dually as an exploration of the foundational texts of terrorism studies, as well as a critical reflection of these authoritative texts. Required book:
Potter, Will. Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege. City Lights Publishers.
Other academic years
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