This chapter critically engages with the politics of extremism and radicalisation in Nigeria, from postcolonial and poststructuralist perspectives. Although ‘religious’ and sectarian intolerances have a long history in Nigeria, academic interest in countering violent extremism (CVE) is recent. However, despite the optimism that this ‘soft’ approach has generated, a perusal of contemporary literature on CVE in Nigeria shows a serious flaw; a cornucopia of taken-for-granted ‘truths’, recycled with gusto, without attention to their underlying politics, which forecloses the possibilities of a richly nuanced and critical understanding of terrorism and its relation to cognate phenomena. This chapter argues that extremism is an ideological tool that the Nigerian state adopts in practising its own version of politics of mutual envy, which is a manifestation of an uncritical perpetuation of (post-)colonial mimicry. Phenomena constructed as extremist are entrenched in the fabric of the history of Northern Nigeria, where Islam – based on varying inflections – has constituted the fulcrum for both hegemonic and counterhegemonic struggles for almost a millennium. Therefore, the historical antagonistic metaphorical binary of ‘Islam vs the West’, which ‘violent extremism’ (a move towards the former) is hinged upon, flounders when exposed to historical, political, social and cultural sensibilities of Northern Nigeria.
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.
Following on the feminist assertion that the personal is political, this chapter uses the focus of countering violent extremism (CVE) programmes on the personal lives of individuals as an opening to offer critiques. It focuses on the way CVE instrumentalises the private realm as a realm of security politics. I argue that this takes the private activity of some and posits it as always potentially threatening precisely because it takes place in the home. I examine this by telling two stories: first, of the way women’s liberation exists as a subnarrative of the focus on the home lives of potential Islamic terrorists; and second, in the way CVE focuses on the community, it focuses on countering recruitment strategies, which in the case of female recruits, focuses on their vulnerability to potential exploitation. It uses these stories to explore the gendered logic of CVE in the way it renders the site of the home subject to security management.
This chapter focuses on non-violent extremism in counter-terrorism strategy, and looks at the wider implications and unintended consequences of pre-emptive approaches in counter-terrorism policy. It pays particular attention to those policies that aim to address extreme and radical ideas in education. It explains what an educational response, as distinct from a security response, to extreme and radical ideas involves and why it matters, and focuses on three primary issues that have significant implications for educational practice and policy: (1) developments in European law and policy to regulate and address extremism; (2) the privileging of pre-emptive and anticipatory risk logics in an expanding field of counter-terrorist strategy; and (3) the adoption of the language of safeguarding against the risk of radicalisation and extremism. It explains why developing educational responses to extreme and radical ideas is important, how such responses differ from both political and security responses, how to distinguish between the different norms governing educational, political and security spaces, and why the shift to pre-emptive logics in counter-terrorism policies and non-violent extremism is problematic for education. It explains why it is important to engage with a wide range of ideas, values, traditions and dispositions in educational spaces and how counter-terrorist policies risk undermining educational practice. Finally, it offers a description of the norms, practices and values that govern educational spaces and pedagogical practices.
Banning them, securing us offers a rich and expansive exploration of the politics
of proscribing – or banning – terrorist organisations in Britain. The book calls
attention to the remarkable, and overlooked, role of proscription debates and
decisions in contemporary UK politics. Using primary empirical research, the
book shows how parliamentary processes of proscribing ‘illegitimate’
organisations is as much a ritual performance as it is a technique for
countering political violence. This ritual, we argue, is a performance of
sovereignty and powerful framing of Britain as a liberal, democratic, moderate
space. Yet, it represents a paradox too. For proscription’s processes have
limited democratic or judicial oversight, and its outcomes pose significant
threats to democratic norms, human rights, political dissent and citizenship
The book breaks important new ground on the politics of terrorism, counter-terrorism, security and democracy. It will be widely read by researchers and students across Security Studies, International Relations, Political Science, History, Sociology and beyond.
This chapter reflects on the UK’s use of proscription, and the implications of this for our knowledge of national security today. The historical and relational contexts explored in the book demonstrate – we argue – the ongoing relevance of proscription, and particularly the international influence of the UK’s proscription traditions, in shaping state administration. The multiple functions assigned to this power, moreover, also exposes proscription as a versatile tool of political convenience for regulating ideas and, in particular, political symbols. Here we suggest that central to proscription is the British state’s preoccupation with symbolic power, whether displayed through the flying of flags, the wearing of uniforms, the performance of rituals or the recitations of oaths. On this analysis, proscription is concerned with denying symbolism to illegitimate entities even though, or perhaps because, citizenship itself is a symbolically constituted status. This sensitivity to rituals, we argue, has wider implications for security scholars insofar as it potentially renders visible other security moves by state institutions, and for our understanding of the political more broadly.
Chapter 4 begins the book’s analysis of British parliamentary debates by outlining the diverse ways in which the power of proscription is positioned politically and normatively therein. The chapter demonstrates that proscription is consistently depicted as a power of significance that merits a certain seriousness. For proscription’s advocates, this significance comes from its contribution to national security via the prevention, deterrence and disruption of terrorist ambitions, as well as its symbolic value in communicating British or parliamentary resolve to would-be terrorists. Parliamentary critics of proscription, on the other hand, see the power as important, we argue, because of its deleterious implications for social and political life within Britain. These include issues around its effectiveness; its potentially counter-productive implications; the civil liberty consequences of listing organisations; and the impact of proscription upon democratic processes more broadly. In reflecting on these arguments, the chapter highlights some of the rhetorical strategies upon which politicians draw within these debates, as well as a tendency – not uncommon – for distraction and diversion therein.
This introductory chapter outlines the scope and rationale of the book, establishing its core arguments, conceptual framework, structure, research questions and contributions. It introduces our understanding of proscription as a form of political ritual that is as much focused on the performance of liberal democracy, as the provision of national security. The introduction situates this approach within our discursive theoretical framework, and sets out the structure of the chapters that follow.
Chapter 6 argues that British political debate on the proscription or banning of terrorist contribute to a process of identity formation. The process is one in which the UK self – or components thereof such as Parliament and parliamentarians – is distinguished from various terrorist others. Proscription debates – and the banning of terrorist groups – are, therefore, performative in that they confer illegitimacy on their target(s): producing particular organisations and their members as ‘unacceptable in this country’. In doing this, moreover, they (re-)produce the United Kingdom as a particular type of political entity with specific – and, very explicitly, liberal, democratic – attributes and characteristics. This sets up a relatively straightforward antagonistic relationship between, on the one hand, a liberal, open and responsible UK self which is mindful of cultural and religious difference, and both cautious and moderate in its actions. And, on the other, a series of illiberal, irrational and extremist terrorist others who remain steadfast in their determination to wage immoral violences against states such as the UK and their publics. Importantly, although there are – again – examples of genuine dissent in these debates, critics of proscription or its application tend to reproduce rather than contest this binary relationship, by appealing for the UK to be truer to its own self-identity.
This chapter situates the British use of proscription in its international context. Our core argument is that the increasingly expansive global deployment of proscription or blacklisting powers in the contemporary period is a product both of desperate legislative responses to al Qaeda’s precipitous emergence in the late 1990s and 2000s, and – at the same time – a continuity of long-standing precedents of political control. The chapter begins by exploring the use of proscription by colonial authorities in the early twentieth century, especially in attempts to contain emancipatory movements, and the increased hardening of political processes to communism in the post-war period which involved exclusions of local communist movements across states in the global North. In its second part, the chapter sets out the prevailing proscription frameworks employed by the UN and EU along with those of a selection of important states. This, we suggest, underscores the influence of the United Kingdom’s proscription laws on other countries. In the final part of the chapter, we consider how scholars have responded to the contemporary wave of blacklisting laws. Here we engage with a range of scholarships including in law, political science and sociology to unpack prominent criticisms of proscription’s efficacy and ethics.