This is part of the SDN Democracy Futures seminar series
Terrorism. Today’s hot topic. It’s everywhere and everyone has an opinion on it. Once a neglected phenomenon in International Relations due to the fact it involved non-state actors in a discipline focused on the interactions of states, terrorism was placed centre stage after 9/11. In 2010, an analyst suggested that a new book on terrorism is published every six hours – and this is just English-language titles. The irony of this explosion in the academic terrorism industry is that there is no agreement on what terrorism is. There is no academic agreement, there is no international agreement, and there is no domestic agreement; with the US currently working with differing definitions unique to individual security organisations.
Professor Colin Wight from the University of Sydney will attempt the impossible and introduce a robust deflationary definition of terrorism. On the basis of this definition, he will also discuss the changing nature of contemporary terrorism, ISIS, and consider its impact on democratic societies, as well as their responses to it. Robust definitions of social scientific concepts should be subject to robust critique. The important question is how well they fare in that process.