The radical politics of British counter-radicalisation policy

Thomas Martin//International Relations//20th of March 2015//1-2 pm//Arts C133

tavistock bus

The war on terror has been a catalyst for a series of transformations in how security comes to be understood and governed in the UK. Central to this has been the development of a new counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST. Prevent, one of the four pillars of CONTEST, has proved the most controversial aspect of the strategy. It asks a very particular question: how can we stop people becoming terrorists? In seeking to answer this problematic, processes of ‘radicalisation’ have attained a centrality. Yet this is a dubious response. Crucially, threat is seen to emerge within spaces and subjects deemed to be disassociated from a normalised ‘Britishness’.

I wish to therefore demonstrate two central mechanisms through which particular identities, values and politics become understood as signifiers of potential future danger, informing a series of interventions at the level of both the individual, through the Channel project, and the community, through the broader ideals of community cohesion. In so doing, we can make explicit an economy of visibility that illuminates particular subjects and spaces as requiring mediation in the present and we can highlight how Prevent has become an important site through which the British inside is (re)constituted and domestic order is secured.


Thomas Martin is a 3rd year PhD candidate in the Department of International Relations.

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