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The coloniality of the religious terrorism thesis

Khan, RM (2023) The coloniality of the religious terrorism thesis. Review of International Studies. pp. 1-20. ISSN 0260-2105

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A dominant narrative, produced and reproduced especially by terrorism scholars, holds that terrorism in its worst form is religious. The most dangerous and non-negotiable form of terrorism, in other words, is the religious kind. At the same time, there is a recurring implication, proposed by many terrorism scholars and reflected in public discourse, that terrorism, no matter its official designation, is always inherently ‘religious’ or ‘religious-like’. Both this implication and the dominant narrative about the uniquely dangerous character of ‘religious terrorism’ – which I summarise as the Religious Terrorism Thesis – builds on colonial knowledge and assumptions about ‘religion’. Religion is also, as I argue, written into the category ‘terrorism’ and enables its negative discursive power and the colonial imagination of ‘terrorism’ as racialised and a system-threat to (Western) modernity. Terrorism, therefore, can never constitute a neutral signifier of a specific kind of political violence. Instead, it functions as a negative ideograph to Western societies, which means it functions to uphold the project of Western modernity/coloniality. The Religious Terrorism Thesis, which I identify as the foundation for the dominant discourse on terrorism today, is a crucial element of coloniality and justifies many controversial and contemporary counterterrorism practices.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: coloniality; modernity; race; religion; religious terrorism; terrorism; 1605 Policy and Administration; 1606 Political Science; 2203 Philosophy; International Relations
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2024 11:30
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2024 11:30
DOI or ID number: 10.1017/S0260210523000517
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22684
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