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This chapter investigates the standardisation and legitimisation of countering extremism at an international level. Based on Critical Discourse Analysis, this work examines the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC’s) discourse on terrorism, specifically in its relation to extremism. Here, a significant shift took place and the concept of extremism became central to the UNSC’s counter-terrorism activity. It is therefore argued in this work that the concept has problematically been assigned discursively a wide range of meanings. These encompass phenomena that go from physical violence to behaviours and even narratives and ideas. The UNSC has reflected but also mutually constituted this shift in the global discourse on terrorism, broadening and legitimising states’, and its own, exceptional powers. Moreover, in virtue of its legal and political powers, the UNSC has not only produced a discourse on this menace but has also established international legal norms and bodies and enforced them on states of the international community. Describing and discussing these processes, the present chapter thus analyses what is better conceptualised as a Foucauldian dispositif of extremism. Through this, it will be argued, the international organisation enforced a global, standardised governmentality which encompassed the public and political realm but also the private and domestic sphere.
Recent years have seen the proliferation of discourses surrounding extremism and related terms. Encountering Extremism offers readers the opportunity to interrogate extremism through a plethora of theoretical perspectives, and to explore counter-extremism as it has materialised in plural local contexts. Through offering a critical interrogation along these two planes – the theoretical and the local – Encountering Extremism presents a unique, in-depth and critical analysis of a profoundly important subject. This book seeks to understand, and expose the implications of, a fundamental problematic: how should scholars and strategists alike understand the contemporary shift from counter-terrorism to counter-extremism?
Starting with a genealogical reflection on the discourse and practices of extremism, the book brings together authors examining the topic of extremism, countering extremism and preventing extremism from different theoretical perspectives, such as critical terrorism studies, postcolonialism and gender studies. It then turns to analyses of the specific consequences of this new discourse in international and local contexts such as the United Nations, Nigeria, Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Spain.
This chapter introduces the reader to the books. It contextualises the problematic discourses and practices related to extremism and underlines the importance and unique aspects of this book. It then describes the content of each chapter and links them together. Lastly, it provides an overview of ‘what can be learnt’ from the book as a whole.