The spaces and faces of Critical Terrorism Studies

Lee Jarvis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the burgeoning academic interest in establishing a critical terrorism studies research programme. It begins by reviewing the debates over definition, causation and response that still dominate mainstream discussions of terrorism. The analytical and normative limitations of these debates, it argues, open considerable space for the emergence of a critically oriented body of literature. A second section then explores two distinct efforts at overcoming these limitations: the broadening and interpretivist faces of critical terrorism studies. The broadening face refers to attempts to expand our understanding of terrorism beyond non-state violence alone, while the interpretivist face comprises critical explorations of terror in image and narrative. Although each of these approaches offers scholars a more engaged role than the problem-solving orientation of the mainstream debates, the article argues that only the interpretivist face is capable of addressing their analytical limitations. The article concludes by calling for further attention to the notion of critique within the relevant critical literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-27
Number of pages23
JournalSecurity Dialogue
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


  • terroism
  • counter-terrorism
  • critical terrorism studies
  • terrorism studies
  • critical theory

Cite this