Research Group Terrorism
Since the end of the Cold War, terrorism has gained importance as a form of political violence in the context of intrastate armed conflicts. It has also been appropriated by a variety of transnationally operating non-state actors. The societal costs of terrorism in terms of economic, social, and political consequences are high. As a result, terrorism has become a top priority on both Western and non-Western states’ security agendas and it is perceived as a main threat by Western societies. State responses within the counter-terrorism framework have generated new forms of political violence, too. These range from internal repression and massive human rights violations, to transnational practices, such as extraordinary renditions and torture, to military interventions and drone wars. Understanding these new or recurrent forms of violence is highly relevant for peace research and practice. In particular, if and in what ways different forms of violence are mutually constitutive, and how they relate to broader societal developments as well as the global political context, should be investigated. Questioning the attribution of legitimacy to certain actors, violent practices, and security policies, and exploring whether and how it is possible to engage actors deemed illegitimate in non-violent ways, might contribute to reducing violence and de-escalating conflicts.
The Research Group “Terrorism” deals with transnationally operating discourses and ideas. It investigates (the effects of) transnationally organized practices and networks of terrorism and counter-terrorism, as well as of Islamism and Jihadism.
The group’s aim is to conduct research from a comparative, interdisciplinary, and critical perspective, putting an emphasis on historical, regional, and global contextualization of studies and their results. To this end, it combines political science approaches to peace and conflict research with the disciplines of psychology, history, and cultural studies. The research group is interested (1) in forms of violent order formation and examines (violent) non-state actors, states, and social actors in their relationship to states. (2) Secondly, it investigates patterns of discursive and practical interaction between and among these actors. (3) Finally, the phenomena of terrorism and counter-terrorism, as well as Islamism and Jihadism, can only be understood in the context of the global order. The group therefore investigates how, on the one hand, these global structures enable and impose limits on the activities of actors under investigation. On the other hand, the group is interested in the agency of these actors and how they challenge, transform, or reproduce structures of global order.