Terrorism - War on Terror

Term: Spring 2010

Subject Code: GHIS

Course Number: 5166

This course is an historical, theoretical, and normative inquiry into terrorism - a phenomenon that, once marginal in U.S. consciousness, has moved to the center of the American political universe. The first part of the course wrestles with the question of definition: whether “terrorism” has coherence and utility as a transhistorical descriptor and analytic construct, or is so suffused with normative bias as to lose validity. It then looks at the origins and evolution of modern forms of violence labeled “terrorist.” Exploring specific historical contexts, we ask whether similarities exist across those contexts and whether a genealogy of terrorism, organized in historical periods and species of violence, is possible. This unit examines also the connection of violence to the sacred (even when no overt religious motive exists) and to ethics, exploring different ways of relating violence, morality, politics, and power. The class concludes by critically examining the response of states to the violence of non-state actors, the sacrifice of civil liberties and human rights to “security,” and the perpetuation of violence through its policing. Authors include Asad, Baudrillard, Camus, Della Porta, Devjii, Fanon, Hoffman, Juergensmeyer, McCoy, Wright, Mayer, and Zizek. Students will conduct research on specific arenas of conflict and conceptual problems raised in the course.



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