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Neoliberalism and/as Terror: CST Annual Conference 2014

Critical Terrorism Studies, BISA working group

Monday, 15 September 2014 at 10:00 - Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 16:00 (BST)

Neoliberalism and/as Terror: CST Annual Conference 2014

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Neoliberalism and/as Terror:


Critical Studies on Terrorism Annual Conference 2014

(For Full Program: )



Nottingham Conference Centre, The Kilpin Room


Location and Map:


Conference Programme



Monday 15 September


10:00-10:30                 Coffee and registration

10:30-11.00                 Introduction and Welcome

11:00-13.00                 Session 1: Neoliberal Terrorism?      

13:00-14:30                 Lunch

14:30-16:00                 Session 2: Playing with Terrorism

16:00-16:30                 Coffee break

16:30-18:00                 First Keynote Speaker – Professor Richard Jackson

18:00-19:30                 Pre-dinner drinks – Langtry’s

19.30                           Optional dinner (location tbc)


Tuesday 16 September


09:00-09:30                 Coffee

09:30-11:00                 Session 3: Discourses of the Radical

11:00-11:30                 Coffee break

11:30-13:00                 Second Keynote Speaker – Professor Mark Neocleous

13:00-14:15                 Lunch

13.45-14.15                 Critical Terrorism Studies WG Meeting (The Kilpin Room)

14:15-15:45                 Session 4: Security and Counter-Terrorism

15.45-16.00                 Closing Remarks




Registration fees for delegates will be £30 for the event (including refreshments on both days, but not the conference dinner). The registration fee will be waived for graduate students.  Please register via Eventbrite and bring cash (if applicable) to the event (so much simpler than cheques).





Accommodation should be booked separately. There are a number of hotels located within walking distance of the Nottingham Conference Centre. We recommend the Hilton on Milton Street in Nottingham.


If you contact the hotel and quote the name of our conference and the Nottingham Conference Centre you will be eligible for a discount on the standard rates. The discounted rates for Sunday 14th and Monday 15th September are from £55-£60 per night inc. of breakfast.


The hotel phone number is: 0115 934 9700


The website link below contains the address and directions to the Hilton hotel.


The hotel is less than a 2 minute walk from the Nottingham Conference Centre.


Conference Dinner


On the Monday evening there is also the annual CTS conference dinner, which starts at 7.30pm. If you would like to attend the dinner please can you email Christopher Baker-Beall at


In order to finalise numbers for the conference dinner can you please confirm your attendance by Friday 29th August 2014.


The dinner will be held at Petit Paris, Kings Walk Nottingham.


The dinner will cost £20 for a 3 course-set menu (excluding drinks, inclusive of vegetarian options) and should be paid in cash on the day.


Further Information


For further information about this event please contact:


•           Christopher Baker-Beall, NTU:

•           Charlotte Heath-Kelly, Warwick University:

•           Lee Jarvis, University of East Anglia:


The conference is sponsored by the British International Studies Association (BISA), Nottingham Trent University (NTU), the NTU Insecurity Political Violence and Change (IPVC) Research Cluster and the Critical Studies on Terrorism Journal (CST). The organisers gratefully acknowledge this support.



Full Conference Programme



Monday 15th September


10:30:  Coffee/Tea and Welcome – The Kilpin Room


Panel 1: Neoliberal Terrorism?


11:00 – 13:00

Chair: Lee Jarvis


1.1 Market Authority and the Security of Mass Transportation in Europe

Marijn Hoijtink, University of Amsterdam


In May 2011, a large consortium of European rail and security suppliers, transport operators and research organizations launched the Secured Urban transport – European Demonstration (SECUR-ED) project with the objective to provide a set of tools to improve urban transport security. Financed by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Security Research and coordinated by the Thales Group, SECUR-ED aims to enhance transport security in Europe by developing ‘an interoperable mix of technologies and processes,’ ranging from crowd management to training procedures, and from explosives detection to the validation and integration of video analytics. Drawing on an analysis of the SECUR-ED project, the paper makes two claims. First, it argues that investment in the security of transport systems needs to be understood in relation to contemporary notions of potential crisis and emergency. It is now a common claim in political geography and critical security studies that a new paradigm of sovereignty is emerging in which old divisions between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ threats and spaces no longer hold. Similarly, we find that in what Deborah Cowen (2010) has called ‘seam spaces’ forms of military/civil security and public/private expertise and authority need to be combined in order to respond to security events. This paper points out how mass transport systems are increasingly understood as an example of such as seam space, and how, hence, they require experimentation with new forms of security such as the SECUR-ED project. Second, the paper demonstrates how the notion of the seam space is also understood to give rise to new opportunities for profit. Drawing on observations during two SECUR-ED demonstrations, I suggest that these research and demonstration projects are primarily a business tool – developed and enacted in order to sell and promote new forms of technology to potential customers.


Marijn Hoijtink is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. Her research critically analyzes the convergence between security and commerce in spaces of everyday life, focusing on how industry involvement organizes new security practices and structures of governance that go beyond the public-private divide.


1.2 Pre-emptive Policing and Depoliticisation: Making Sense of Domestic Extremism, Counter-Radicalisation and Digital Surveillance

Thomas Martin, PHD student, Sussex


The purpose of this paper is to theorise a series of recent transformations in the policing of domestic neoliberal orders, taking the UK as its empirical grounding. It will be argued that the recent shift to a pre-emptive security regime has had the effect of making particular subjects problematic through their future potential, thus demanding their mediation in the present, leading to a dangerous constriction of the political.

This paper seeks to articulate three key developments. First, the increased demand to intervene into domestic extremism, second, new practices of counter-radicalisation policing within the war on terror, and third, the technologically driven interrogation of big data and the surveillance of digital activity. Whilst these processes have garnered journalistic and academic attention, there have been few attempts to analyse these differing policing functions as part of a coherent whole within a specific moment of neoliberal modernity.

What links these processes is the demand that threats be made visible as epistemically prior to their conceivable enactment as possible and with this we see the emergence and consolidation of an architecture which enables these potential subversions  to be governed. This particular future-orientation of threat therefore shifts the location of mediation into the non-illegal, pre-juridical realm. What is at stake are the signs of future threat; it is behaviours, utterances and identities that become problematic in the present due to the premonitions of their future. Put into question are a whole series of legal acts that are made visible through the imputation of potential illegality. These transformations have many effects, but the focus here is on the contemporary subjects they seek to both affirm and deny, and concretely, a policing regime that demands the pacification of particular political identifications due to the promised threat they are seen to contain.


1.3 Accumulation, Crisis, Counterterrorism: the Pre-emptive Shielding of Neoliberal Capitalism

Christos Boukalas, Law and Society Research Fellow, Cardiff Law School.


This paper attempts a reading of US counterterrorism policy through the lens of capital accumulation. It starts with an assessment of the conjuncture on the eve of 9/11. This was marked by the first full-blown crisis of neoliberalism, as its socio-economic strategies and their political institutions came under fire from populations in the core capitalist countries and, at the same moment, in the face of economic crash, were also questioned by big capital. In this conjuncture, 9/11 signified a change of guard in the power bloc, and a shift of the regime of accumulation – from one based on mergers and green-field expansion, to one based on (the perception of) crisis. From there on, the paper examines how counterterrorism redefines the relations of the federal state with capital and with the population. Regarding the former, it focuses on the resurgence of state subsidies, the creation of a ‘homeland security’ economic sector, and the peculiar regime through which the state can select and promote specific corporations. Regarding the state-population relations, the paper focuses on the advent of ‘total intelligence’, i.e. the perpetual surveillance of all citizens in all their interactions by a bloated and legally unconstrained intelligence apparatus; and on the systematic targeting of popular antagonistic politics by the security apparatus, as outlined in law and undertaken in practice.

The paper concludes by reiterating that under neoliberalism, capital accumulation is extremely prone to, and even depends on, crisis. As crisis becomes a key systemic component of accumulation, counterterrorism, especially as a relation between the state and the population, is seen as the pre-emptive shielding of the capitalist state and the social order it promotes, in the face of socio-political fallout caused by recurring economic crises.


1.4 Ideology, governance and cyber terrorism in Europe 

Andre Barrinha, Canterbury Christ Church University


According to Karen L. Petersen and Vibeke S. Tjalve (2013), contemporary security governance, particularly  in  the  US,  should  be  understood  within  an  emerging  framework  of  ‘neo­republicanism’. Security is, in this context, ‘shared’ between multiple stakeholders, in which the responsible citizen assumes a central role in surveilling and even defining the terms of the security threat. This understanding of security comes in opposition to the more common (but yet largely  under­conceptualised)  critique  in  Critical  Security  Studies  of  a  neoliberal  agenda  that frames security policies in the Global North. This  paper  intends  to  apply  and  discuss  Petersen  and  Tjalve’s  argument by resorting to  the example of Europe’s (EU,  NATO and the UK) security governance of cyber­terrorism. It will be argued  that  both  the  definition  of  what  constitutes  ‘cyber­terrorism’ and  what  is  to  be ‘safeguarded’  against  this  threat  (referent  objects)  points  towards  an underlying  neoliberal understanding of security. As it will be suggested, a more thorough interpretation of neoliberalism as an ideology, and of ideology as an encompassing  concept that frames policy areas, would raise some doubts regarding this potential move towards neo­republican security as portrayed by these authors


Lunch: 13.00-14.30


Lunch will be held in The Old Library.


Panel 2: Playing with Terrorism


14:30 – 16:00

Chair: Chris Baker-Beall


2.1 Going Fifth Freedom: Video Games and the War on Terror

Robert young, PHD Student, Leeds


Video games are a fast-growing part of our contemporary culture with the potential to simulate a wide-range of politically-charged scenarios. Now commonly set amidst the struggle against global terrorism, military-shooter games fashion a narrative within which the player-perpetrated violence within them is coded as acceptable, clinical and in the national interest. This is exemplified in the recent release of Splinter Cell: Blacklist (Ubisoft, 2013), within which the player-protagonist is afforded the Fifth Freedom right to ‘defend our laws by breaking them’. Within this game the player is afforded the freedom to wage war without consequence, becoming a part of conflict which is state-sanctioned, committed by soldiers and coded in such a way that it resonates with much the common rhetoric of the ‘war on terror’. Mindful that there is no consensus approach to the analysis of the video game medium this paper will provide a justification for critical engagement, examining some of the prevalent methodological approaches and cumulating in my own examination of this scripting of warfare throughout the Splinter Cell: Blacklist game.


2.2Time, Terrorism and Military Videogames post 9/11: A Case of Orwellian Perpetual War?

Nick Robinson (Associate Professor in Politics/Videogames Research) School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds


Orwell’s 1984 made two claims of central importance to this paper: that the world was confronted by perpetual war and that friends and enemies were inter-changeable, with the public subjected to continuous propaganda to ensure they accepted this. For many commentators, the ‘war on terror’ has profoundly affirmed the dangers of the former, whilst friends and enemies have become immutable.

Drawing upon work from historiography, ‘theatrical time’, time in IR and American Exceptionalism, this paper explores military videogames set in the past, present and future, arguing that they all re-appropriate time and construct it through a lens which is profoundly shaped by the war on terror - games frequently ‘re-claim the past’ and ‘tell the future’ to offer politically contentious stories. Whereas Vietnam war films, for example, often explicitly engage with the war as a period of regret and ‘temporal rupture’, the game Call of Duty Black Ops (revenues of over $1bn) portrays the Vietnam war as ‘justified’ with the Vietnamese complicit in a plot to unleash chemical weapons on the USA. Also, games set in the present (e.g. Army of Two) frequently reiterate and confirm the position taken by many American media outlets at the time of the 9/11 attacks – e.g. that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction – even though these ‘facts’ have subsequently been called into question.

Furthermore, military games also reinforce the spatial and racial absence of the Middle East as potential allies in future war. Even sci-fi games offer no place for the Middle Eastern ally – Earth is thus an American concern (the two are mutually synonymous) and the fate of the Earth is contingent on the capacity of the USA to resist the alien aggressors. Videogames are thus not ‘just a game’ and have crucial implications for critical terrorism studies.





2.3 The Discursive Production of the Friendly Terrorist Other in Nicaragua

Stephen Warren, PHD Student, QUB


Numerous academic texts have now detailed the role of the United States in supporting the Contras in Nicaragua during their guerrilla war against the Sandinista government. As has been highlighted by many of these texts, the Contras were known to use subversive tactics that could easily be described as “terrorist” in popular Western discourse. In the hegemonic discourse of American foreign and security policy, terrorist groups tend to assume the role of the “evil” other, constructed against a “good” United States of America which stands against this destructive threat. However in the case of some non-state armed groups, such as the Nicaraguan Contras, their tactical similarities with so-called terrorist groups are overlooked.

Using a discursive practises approach, inspired by the discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe, this paper seeks to ask the question of how this is possible in the United States security narrative. Placing non-state armed groups in the context of the security imaginary as detailed by Weldes in Constructing National Interests, the paper seeks to highlight the discursive constructions attached to a non-state armed group such as the Contras which ultimately allow certain policies, such as a neoliberal agenda, to take place, where a certain representation of the world is created. It is suggested that there is a creation of a friendly other, which assumes many of the signifiers which are present in the American understanding of the self. This other sits between the United States and the “evil” other in the American security imaginary, and this ultimately is damaging for the American understanding of the self and terrorism more generally.


16:00 – 16:30 Coffee/Tea


16:30: Keynote Address

Professor Richard Jackson: The Epistemological Crisis of Counterterrorism


18:00 – 19:30 – Drinks – Langtry’s (Just off the Cornerhouse)


19:30 – Conference dinner – Petit Paris



Tuesday 16th September


Panel 3: Discourses of the radical


09:30 – 11:00

Chair: Charlotte Heath-Kelly


3.1 Discursive Construction of Female Suicide Bombers

Katerina Krulisova, Nottingham Trent, PHD student


When a female suicide bomber attacked the train station in the city of Volgograd on December 29, 2013, the gendered discussion on female suicide bombers was again brought back to the limelight. Uncritically - of the all possible political explanations of the motivation of the attacker whose identity started to be immediately questioned - when identified as a woman she was quickly classified as a ‘Black Widow’ – a Chechen female terrorist motivated by revenge for the death of her husband, father or son. 

In the Russo-Chechen conflict, the popular narrative of a vengeful deranged mother, wife, or daughter is at times altered. It is replaced with the narrative of a manipulated, drugged or raped ‘zombie female’ who chooses the path of suicide bomber as a way of escaping the shame and certain exclusion by the traditional conservative society or improbability of marriage in the future. This flawed biological and social construction is said to be the most important factor behind the decision of Chechen females to engage in terrorism. The irrational avenger image or enslaved agency deprived perception of the Black Widow is being presented to the international community for over two decades, not only by the Russian, but also international media. This portrayal is topped up with racial othering of both the Chechen men and women and the general Islamophobia of news recipients in the wider West. This paper aims to uncover the hegemonic gendered discourse on the Chechen Black Widows and analyse the power relation and patriarchal domination that defines its current form from both private and public politics perspectives and as a part of global war on terror discourse.


3.2 Security, Identity, and subjectivity: deradicalisation in the UK counter-terrorism strategy and the formation of a new political ethics

Mohammed Elshimi, PHD Student, Exeter


Over the past decade policymakers have framed the phenomenon of ‘new terrorism’, ‘home-grown bombers’, and the globalisation of militancy as the biggest threat to the security of the nation-state. Deradicalisation has therefore been conceived by elite policy-makers as an instrument of counterterrorism in the fight against violent radicalisation and this ‘new security challenge’. The UK deradicalisation strategy places counter-ideology and the production of moderate ideological formulations at the heart of its counter-terrorism strategy. And yet as I argued in my previous paper (September 2012), despite the ‘new security challenge’, the discourse on deradicalisation is characterised by the absence of detailed research, little or no empirical evidence for policy development, and confusion surrounding its conceptual framework.In this paper however, I want to offer an alternative understanding and conceptualisation of deradicalisation to the Prevents strategy conception of deradicalisation. Using my fieldwork data and Foucault’s work on the subject, as well as theory of bio-power, I want to argue that deradicalisation is best understood as a ‘technology of the self’. I will endeavour to demonstrate that deradicalisation is a technology of the self by exploring the interplay and relationship between the four major types of technologies Foucault identified on his work on the subject, which are:


  1. 1.      Technology of Production
  2. 2.      Technology of Signification
  3. 3.      Technology of Power
  4. 4.      Technology of the self


Interpreting my data on deradicalisation through the theoretical lens of technologies of the self, my paper suggests that deradicalisation must be viewed as being concerned with wider political and governmental objectives relating to reconstructions of the state, citizenship, and identity.  This in other words is not merely about conventional concerns with terrorism-it is also about a new ethics, a new way of being, and the formation of other subjectivity under neo-liberalism.


3.3 PREVENT: creating 'radicals' to feed neoliberal narratives

Asim Qureshi, CAGE Research Director


“She is of good behaviour and a good Muslim. Against this background, I accept on the evidence before me that this defendant gathered together the contents of the SD card in order to explore and understand the charges which her brothers faced. There is no evidence that she was motivated by their ideology or was preparing to follow them.”

The judge in the case of Ruksana Begum clarified to the court that she had not been involved in illegality or had any intention to pose a threat to the UK. Despite this recognition, he sentenced Begum to a twelve-month prison term for possessing the magazine Inspire which she had been reading to understand her charged brother’s case.What is unknown, is the story of how Begum was subjected to a deradicalisation programme under the auspices of PREVENT and CHANNEL, without any indication of any involvement in terrorism.

The use of deradicalisation narratives in schools, universities and hospitals has seen then criminalisation of large sections of Muslim communities in the UK. Based on our experience of cases such as Ruksana Begum and Jameel Scott, we hope to present a view of how an aggressive neoliberal discourse that is based on assumptions, subverts the political expression/identity of individuals, by turning them into potential threats. By understanding the everyday interactions with PREVENT, a picture can be formed of the way that a false presentation of narratives, can lead to a person becoming an ‘extremist’ or ‘terrorist’, while the truth may lie in a completely alternative place.


3.4 Sovereign and Subversive Terrorism in Brazilian Remembrance of the Cold War

Henrique Furtado, University of Manchester


From 1964 to 1985 Brazilian authorities fought a war against “communist terrorism” to secure the country’s territorial autonomy and its ideological inclination. The neoliberal regime created a paramount apparatus for social-political repression, resorting to a long period of state terrorism. After 27 years since the democratic transition, Brazil instituted a National Truth Commission (CNV) in order to account for past violations of

Do you have questions about Neoliberalism and/as Terror: CST Annual Conference 2014? Contact Critical Terrorism Studies, BISA working group

When & Where

Nottingham Conference Centre, The Kilpin Room
Nottingham Conference Centre, Nottingham Trent University
Location and Map:

United Kingdom

Monday, 15 September 2014 at 10:00 - Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 16:00 (BST)

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Critical Terrorism Studies, BISA working group

The Critical Studies on Terrorism Working Group was established in 2006 to provide an international network for scholars working on terrorism-related research. The group’s primary aims include:


  • To explore the ways in which terrorism is acted upon by law and in politics. This includes the uses which terrorism serves in security policy, and the consequences of the War on Terror.
  • To provide a forum through which to establish links between terrorism research and cognate areas including Peace Studies, Political Science, International Relations, Sociology, Human Geography, and beyond.
  • To serve as a forum for scholars with a critical emphasis in their work, albeit with a broad, pluralistic approach to the category of ‘critique’


For more information on the working group, visit our website: 


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To join our mailing list, please email one of the conveners.

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