State terrorism research and Critical Terrorism Studies: An assessment

Lee Jarvis, Michael Lister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
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This article explores the value of scholarship on state terrorism for the critical study of terrorist violences. The article begins by identifying four primary contributions of this scholarship: first, a rethinking of the status and significance of terrorism; second, an unsettling of broader assumptions within International Relations (IR) and terrorism research; third, an ability to locate state violences within pertinent, but potentially camouflaged, contexts; and, fourth, a prioritisation of critique as a responsibility of scholarship. The article’s second section then argues that the purchase of this work could be further extended by greater conceptual engagement with the state itself. In particular, we point to the value of contemporary approaches to the state as a terrain and outcome of social and political struggle, rather than as a singular actor of unitary purpose. Rethinking the state in this way has value, we argue, first, for moving research beyond the identification and typologising of state terrorisms; and, second, for circumventing the perennial problem of identifying intentionality in efforts to designate violences as (state) terrorism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-61
Number of pages19
JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • state terrorism
  • terrorism
  • critical terrorism studies
  • terrorism studies
  • definition
  • the state

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