Terrorism, counter-terrorism, and critique: Opportunities, examples, and implications

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This article explores the parameters, value and limitations of different critical strategies for those dissatisfied with the contemporary politics of terror. It argues, first, that the prominent counter-terrorism paradigm – in which terrorism is approached as a ubiquitous and very specific security challenge meriting appropriately exceptional responses – is far more critiqued than we might anticipate. And, second, that such critiques – which can be found across political language, popular culture, everyday life, and beyond – employ distinct critical resources to serve varying ends. Reflecting on these, the article offers a new heuristic distinguishing five critical strategies which seek to: (i) repudiate; (ii) question; (iii) subvert; (iv) replace, or (v) deconstruct the prominent counter-terrorism paradigm. This typology, it argues, offers scope for optimism and strategic resources for those attracted to a critical terrorism studies project going forward.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-358
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
Issue number2
Early online date20 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • critical terrorism studies
  • critique
  • criticism
  • counter-terrorism
  • terrorism

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