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The making of terrorists

Anthropology and the alternative truth of America's 'War on Terror' in the Sahara

Jeremy Keenan

This article, based on almost eight years of continuous anthropological research amongst the Tuareg people of the Sahara and Sahel, suggests that the launch by the US and its main regional ally, Algeria, in 2002–2003 of a ‘new’, ‘second’, or ‘Saharan’ Front in the ‘War on Terror’ was largely a fabrication on the part of the US and Algerian military intelligence services. The ‘official truth’, embodied in an estimated 3,000 articles and reports of one sort or another, is largely disinformation. The article summarizes how and why this deception was effected and examines briefly its implications for both the region and its people as well as the future of US international relations and especially its global pursuance of an increasingly suspect ‘War on Terror’.

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“Going vertical” in times of insecurity

Constructing proximity and distance through a Kenyan gated high-rise

Zoë Goodman

with the war on terror speaks volumes to the Mombasan cityscape within which the Jaffery Complex is being built. It is September 2018, 5 years since the Westgate shopping mall attack rocked the Kenyan capital, and almost exactly 20 years since the

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'J'accuse...!'

Crisis in the Reproduction of Anthropological Scholarship

Heike Schaumberg

The recent wave of important anthropological critiques of the global 'war on terror' is in danger of being undermined by a disciplinary vision that disregards challenging an institutional culture of fear and compliance with injustices and inequality, which is more likely to nurture discrimination and professional malpractices than commi ed scholarship. I am drawing an analogy with Zola's 'J'accuse…!' about how institutional rules of accountability in the tick-box form of neoliberal auditing can serve the purpose of oppressing the rights they are nominally intended to protect. The article argues that debates about disciplinary crisis should be reframed as one about a crisis in the reproduction of scholarship. The discipline needs to employ the anthropological tools of enquiry consistently in its practices and theory, 'at home' and in the wider world. Fundamental questions regarding discriminatory practices and professional ethics in the everyday academic workplace need to be addressed not silenced in order to nurture not only critical but also credible anthropological challenges to important contemporary historical processes.

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War, Politics and Race

Reflections on Violence in the 'War on Terror'

Saul Newman and Michael P. Levine

The authors argue that the 'war on terror' marks the ultimate convergence of war with politics, and the virtual collapse of any meaningful distinction between them. Not only does it signify the breakdown of international relations norms but also the militarization of internal life and political discourse. They explore the 'genealogy' of this situation firstly through the notion of the 'state of exception'—in which sovereign violence becomes indistinct from the law that is supposed to curtail it—and secondly through Foucault's idea that politics is essentially a form of warfare. They suggest that these two ways of approaching the question of violence can only be understood through a racist dimension, which forms the hidden underside of the 'war on terrorism'. In other words, our contemporary situation is characterized by the mobilization not only of fundamentalist and conservative ideologies, but, increasingly, racial antagonisms and prejudices directed towards the Muslim other.

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Institutions of Confinement as Sites of Passage

The Mètis of Foreign Nationals Caught in the Wars on Terror, Drugs and Immigration

Carolina S. Boe

( Morawetz 2000 ). Most deportable ‘criminal aliens’ had been sentenced for drug- or poverty-related misdemeanours during the ‘wars on crime’, ‘wars on drugs’ and ‘zero tolerance’ measures of the 1980s and 1990s, and the War on Terror in the aftermath of 9

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Zaindi Choltaev and Michaela Pohl

This article discusses the hostage tragedy in Beslan (North Ossetia) and its connection to Russia's war in Chechnya and to Vladimir Putin's domestic policies. The authors argue that Russia is embracing the war on terror, but Russia's leaders are not really interested in putting an end to the terror. They have not made an effort to find out or tell the truth about its causes, to fight the all-pervasive corruption that is an important factor in all of the latest major attacks, nor to find convincing social and political solutions in Chechnya. The current initiatives leave society with lies and terromania and strengthen those who profit from a continuation of the war on terror and the war in Chechnya.

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'Delinquents, Troublemakers, Pirates and Gangsters'

New Wars in the Postpolitical Borderland

Mikkel Thorup

This article tries to actualize Carl Schmitt's critique of liberal internationalism in what the author calls the 'liberal globalist paradigm', which substitutes a post-sovereign humanitarian-moralist discourse for political arguments. This discourse helps shape a new inequality in the interstate system based on the ability to invoke humanist language; an ability that is systematically skewed in favour of Western states. The post-sovereign discourse hides an aggressive liberal antipluralism which only acknowledges liberal-capitalist societies as legitimate and reserving the right to intervene and criticize globally. The new re-configuration of power manifests itself in the war on terror and in humanitarian interventions.

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This issue is the third in an ongoing series examining the political, social and economic implications of war in the contemporary world. Previous issues on this theme (Theoria 109, April 2006, and 110, August 2006) touched on debates about ‘old’ and ‘new’wars, militant American neoconservatism and the war on terror, the ramifications of humanitarian intervention and conscientious objection, and prospects for global justice and peace. The implications of current U.S. foreign policy continue to loom large in this issue, but the focus falls in addition on the personal and moral effects of war and its consequences for the individual: the moral claims behind the Bush Doctrine, and its effects on domestic issues and personal life, the question of targeted killings of individual terrorists, the continued relevance and utility of Clausewitz’s theory of war, and the use of foreign health aid as a deterrent to bioterrorism.

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Terminating Terror

The Legality, Ethics and Effectiveness of Targeting Terrorists

Avery Plaw

In the ongoing war on terror both the American and Israeli governments have resorted to a policy of ‘targeting terrorists’. In essence, both governments authorize their military or intelligence services to kill specific ‘terrorists’ who they believe mortally threaten citizens and cannot otherwise be neutralized. President Bush calls this ‘sudden justice’ and the Israeli government ‘targeted killing’ but their critics speak of ‘assassination’, ‘liquidation’ or ‘extra-judicial killing’. Since 11 September 2001, America is reported to have killed at least 44 people without warning or trial under the guidance of this policy, at least 18 of whom were civilians; the Israelis have killed at least 348, including 120 unintended targets (B’tselem 2006; Byman 2006b; Meyer 2006).

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Lesley Gill

Low-intensity conflicts, counter-insurgencies, and the so-called war on terror blur the boundaries between war and peace and, in doing so, collapse the distinctions between combatants and non-combatants. Scholars have used concepts such as `routinization of terror', `culture of fear', and `banalization of violence' to describe how fear regulates social life in places of extreme instability. These concepts often paint an overgeneralized portrait of violence that fails to examine the social relationships and institutional forms that give rise to terror and insecurity. This article examines the shifting qualities of war and peace in Colombia and argues that daily life in Barrancabermeja—a working-class city nominally `at peace' after a government-backed, paramilitary demobilization process—is a volatile arena of uncertainty in which some people are more vulnerable than others.