This chapter critically evaluates strategies that counter extremism from a peace studies approach. Acknowledging recent calls for more non-violent approaches to counter-extremism and counter-terrorism more generally, it contributes by examining how peace studies can offer a critical framework to examine the impact of the increasing emphasis on extremism, as indicated by many chapters within this volume. This chapter develops a matrix of peace and violence to evaluate whether current approaches to countering extremism engender peace or violence. It argues that current counter-extremism approaches engender plural forms of violence: epistemic violence through promoting homogeneity and securitising diversity, cultural violence through conflating diversity with threat and legitimising the transformation of Islamic communities into an imagined suspect community, and direct violence in interrogating students thought to be at risk of radicalisation. Such high levels of violence indicate the counter-productive and damaging nature of contemporary counter-extremism. The chapter offers a possible solution for a peaceful counter-extremism, built on the framework of agonism and agonistic peace.
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.
A critical examination of theoretical issues and local challenges
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.