ADI-AVERT-Network-Lockup.png

AVERT Research Network Symposium

Edgework: The politics and ethics of conducting research on violent extremism and terrorism 

                                                                   Burwood Corporate Centre (BCC) Deakin University – Burwood Campus

                                                                                        221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125

                                                     **Ask at Burwood Corporate Centre Reception for AVERT Symposium room information**

3-4 September 2018


Programme

Day 1: 
Monday 3 September

  8:45 am  -  Registration and coffee

  9:30 am  -  Introduction Professor Michele Grossman, Convener, AVERT Research Network

10:00 am  -  Keynote Address

                      Professor Maura Conway, Coordinator, VOX-Pol Network of Excellence on Violent Online Political
                      Extremism, EU/Dublin City University, Ireland

'The Ethics of Conducting Research on Violent Extremism, Terrorism and the Internet: Some Practical Matters'

11:00 am  -  Coffee Break

11:30 am  -  Panel 1: Frames: Theoretical contexts and perspectives on ethical issues in terrorism research

Chair: Professor Greg Barton

                     1) Dr Imogen Richards, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University

 'Terrorism Sympathy, Moral Equivalence, or Strategic Appraisal? A Comparative Perspective on Far-right, Neo-jihadist, and Counterterrorist Contexts'

                     2) Dr Vanessa Barolsky, Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University

 'The ethics of representation: a critical approach to terrorism research'

                     3) Professor Kevin Dunn and Rachel Sharples, School of Social Sciences and Pyschology, Western
                      Sydney University

‘Beyond the politics of wariness: Sydney Muslim community dispositions towards CVE policing’

 1:00 pm  -  Lunch

 2:00 pm  -  Panel 2: Obligations: Ethical challenges of terrorism research strategies

Chair: Dr Zahid Ahmed

                    1) Dr Julian Droogan & Lise Waldek, Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism, Macquarie
                     University

‘Deception, deradicalisation and evaluation: the ethics of academic engagement’

                    2) Dr Abdul Basit, International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) of the S.
                      Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore

‘Delineating between violent and non-violent extremism: Ethical, conceptual and methodological challenges and the demand for swift policymaking’

                    3) Dr Matteo Vergani, Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University

‘The need for methodological transparency and accountability in terrorism research’

 3:30 pm  -  Afternoon tea

 4:00 pm  -  Plenary session

                    Professor Seumas Miller, Charles Sturt University/Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics/TU Delft,
                    The Netherlands

‘Collective responsibility in terrorism research’

 5:00 pm  -  Book launch and canapés

                     Professor Kevin Dunn, Dean of Social Sciences and Psychology and Professor in Human Geography
                     and Urban Studies, Western Sydney University, will launch:

                     Dr Matteo Vergani's
                     How is Terrorism Changing Us? Threat Perception and Political Attitudes in the Age of Terror
                     (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018)

6:30 pm  -  End Day 1


Day 2:
Tuesday 4 September

10:00 am  -  Panel 1: Positionalities: Unpacking conceptual and relational ethics in researching terrorism

Chair: Dr Vivian Gerrand

                     1) Reem Sweid, Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University

'Exploring the problematisation of radicalisation from a post-structuralist perspective' 

                     2) Assistant Professor Dayyab Gillani, University of the Punjab, Lahore

‘Tread Carefully: Perils of studying religious extremism in religious societies’

11:00 am  -  Coffee Break

11:30 am  -  Panel 2: Exposures: ethics, people and data in terrorism research

Chair: Dr Vanessa Barolsky

                     1)  Professor Michele Grossman and Dr Vivian Gerrand, Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University

 ‘Terrorism confidential: Managing primary data and the construction of "necessary fictions"'

                     2) Assoc. Professor Deborah Zion, VU Research, Victoria University

 '“Can these bones live?” International ethics guidance and researching violent extremism and terrorism'

                     3) Dr Susie Latham, Curtin University, and Adel Salman, Vice President, Islamic Council of Victoria

‘CVE researcher obligations to Muslim children’

1:00 pm  -  Lunch

2:00 pm  -  Master class with Maura Conway, VOX-Pol Network of Excellence

‘Contemporary issues and trends in online violent extremism research’ (includes afternoon tea)

5:00 pm  -  Conclusion of Symposium - Closing remarks and next steps (Professor Michele Grossman and Dr Vivian Gerrand, Coordinator, AVERT Research Network)


Master Class

Master class with Professor Maura Conway, Tuesday 4 September, 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

‘Contemporary issues and trends in online violent extremism research’

As part of the AVERT Research Network Symposium, we are delighted to welcome Professor Maura Conway, VOX-Pol Network of Excellence, to lead a master class on researching online violent extremism.

This masterclass will provide a general overview of the history of terrorism and the internet, including a focus on both Islamic State and far-right online violent extremist activity. The masterclass will then move to consideration of current trends and issues in online violent extremism, including what lies beyond Islamic State in the jihadist online landscape. Specific cases focused on various violent extremist movements online will be explored in these contexts.

Registration for the full AVERT Research Network Symposium includes attendance at Professor Conway's master class, however we have also opened registrations for the master class only which can be found on Eventbrite. 

Participant Abstracts and Biographical Notes

 

Keynote speakers

1.     Professor Maura Conway, Coordinator, VOX-Pol Network of Excellence on Violent Online Political Extremism, EU/Dublin City University, Ireland

'The Ethics of Conducting Research on Violent Extremism, Terrorism, and the Internet: Some Practical Matters'

Bio note

Dr. Maura Conway is Professor of International Security in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University (DCU) in Dublin, Ireland and Coordinator of VOX-Pol, a EU-funded project on violent online political extremism (voxpol.eu). Prof. Conway’s principal research interests are in the area of terrorism and the Internet, including cyberterrorism, the functioning and effectiveness of violent political extremist online content, and violent online radicalisation. She is the author of over 40 articles and chapters in her specialist area(s). Her research has appeared in, amongst others, Studies in Conflict & TerrorismMedia, War & Conflict, Parliamentary Affairs, and Social Science Computer Review. Prof. Conway has presented her findings before the United Nations in New York, the Commission of the European Union in Brussels, the Club de Madrid, and elsewhere. 

 

2.     Professor Seumas Miller, Charles Sturt University/Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics/TU Delft, The Netherlands

‘Collective responsibility in terrorism research’

Bio note

Professor Seumas Miller is an applied philosopher who holds research positions at the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security and the Cooperative Research Centre in Cybersecurity at Charles Sturt University (Canberra), the 4TU Centre for Ethics and Technology at Delft University of Technology (The Hague) and the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. His most recent authored books are Shooting to Kill: The Ethics of Police and Military Use of Lethal Force (Oxford University Press, 2016), Institutional Corruption: A Study in Applied Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and Dual Use Science and Technology, Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction (Springer, 2018). He is the Principal Researcher on a European Research Council Advanced Grant on Collective Responsibility and Global Terrorism (www.counterterrorismethics.com)

 

Symposium presenters

Dr Vanessa Barolsky, Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University

'The ethics of representation: a critical approach to terrorism research'

Research on terrorism has experienced a ‘critical’ turn in the past decade in response to concerns about the quality of research post 9/11, focused on a critique of the construction of knowledge about terrorism. However, there has been less explicit engagement with the ethical implications of a critical approach to terrorism studies. Rather than adhering to a ‘false neutrality or objectivity’, Critical Terrorism Studies (CTS) argues that it seeks to actively engage with the ethico-political entailments of terrorism research by openly adhering to the ‘values and priorities of universal human rights and societal security’ (Jackson et al. 2007: 21). What does this commitment actually involve when discourses on terrorism and counter-terrorism are so often characterised by fervent moral binaries that prevent lucid analysis of the causes and consequences of the phenomenon?  This paper will be a preliminary exploration of what a ‘critical’ approach may offer to a reflection on the ethics of terrorism research. I argue that a critical method concerns an analysis of the structures of thought and affect which shape, not only how we do research, but preceding this, how we think and feel research as an embodied practice. If we understand research on terrorism as not simply a factual reflection of a pre-existing empirical reality but the product of representation, of a construction of knowledge, violence in general and terrorism in particular, raise difficult ethical problematics regarding how we participate as researchers in this process of representation.  Violence and terror in many ways dispute language, it makes people mute, it appears ‘unspeakable’.  This ‘silence’ of pain makes it vulnerable to political, ideological and intellectual appropriation. What are the ethical obligations of researchers in this environment? This paper will explore some of these complexities of representation and the difficulties of appropriating terror to language, in terms of ethics as an ‘expression of everyday life’ (Das 2015: 38) rather than an endeavour quarantined to the domain of the ethics application.

References: 

Jackson, R., Gunning, J., & Breen-Smyth, M. (2007). The Case for Critical Terrorism Studies. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, United States. 

Dass, V., (2015). “What does ordinary ethics look like?” in M. Lambek, V. Das, D. Fassin, W.Keane, Four Lectures on Ethics: Anthropological Perspectives (Masterclass Series). Chicago: Hau Books. 

Bio note

Dr Vanessa Barolsky is an Associate Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI). She works across several disciplinary areas including sociology, anthropology and criminology to engage questions related to social conflict and its transformation. This includes political violence (including violent extremism) criminal violence, questions of social regulation, including law and justice as well  social cohesion and reconciliation. Prior to her employment at ADI Dr Barolsky was a Research Specialist at the Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery Programme of the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa where she led numerous interdisciplinary studies on key social challenges such as access to justice, violent crime and safety policy. She has also worked in some of South Africa’s key democratic institutions such as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Her PHD on the TRC analysed the discursive production of knowledge about political violence at the Commission. She is currently an investigator on several projects on countering violent extremism, particularly focusing on the role of communities.  One study maps support services for young people at risk of radicalising to violent extremism. A second project investigates the role of communities in reintegrating the families of Australians who have left the country to participate in overseas conflicts. She is currently co-investigator on a project to evaluate two creative interventions to build social cohesion and resilience among young people for the Victorian government.   vanessa.barolsky@deakin.edu.au

 

Dr Abdul Basit, International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore

‘Delineating between violent and non-violent extremism: Ethical, conceptual and methodological challenges and the demand for swift policymaking’

From Marc Sageman’s observation that terrorism scholarship is stagnant where the intelligence community knows everything and understands nothing, while the academia knows nothing and understands everything, terrorism studies has evolved as a discipline. Globalization and information revolution have also eased researchers’ difficulties in accessing the data. However, as terrorism research has flourished the challenges for researchers have also multiplied.

This paper will discuss the ethical, conceptual and methodological challenges associated with differentiating between violent and non-violent extremism. In an evolving threat environment, the lines between violent and non-violent extremism have been blurred so much so that they are almost non-existent. Despite similar worldviews and value systems, violent and non-violent extremism are qualitatively different and their consequences on the societies are also different.

Arguably, complacency towards non-violent extremists carries the risk of ignoring potential security threats. At the same time, punitive measures lacking a deeper understanding can push the more radical fringe within non-violent extremists towards violent-extremism. The fact remains that while non-violent extremists offer potential gateways towards violent-extremisms, yet they operate within legal boundaries. For instance, individuals like Anjem Choudary and religious institutions like Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT) have operated within the ambit of law and through their activism they have pushed people towards violent-extremism. How do we tackle these cases without infringing their fundamental rights to freedom of speech, political association, and religious activism?

In dealing with non-violent extremism, the policymakers look for quick-fixes and tend to criminalize and securitize the issue, while researchers are interested in understanding the deeper conceptual nuances. So, where is the meting point between policymakers’ need for quick action and researchers’ ethical requirements of being cautious in classifying people and institutions as non-violent extremists? Inter-disciplinary examination of Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s activism, Youtube speeches of Anjem Choudary in the UK and lectures of Mualana Tariq Jamil, as well as the politics of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in Pakistan, can enhance the prevailing understating on the issue for better policy-making and analyses.     

Bio note

Abdul Basit is an Associate Research Fellow and head of South Asia desk at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore.  He specializes in South Asian security issues with a primary focus on terrorism and religious extremism in the Af-Pak region. He is also the Associate Editor of ICPVTR’s open-access monthly journal Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA). He regularly publishes commentaries and peer reviewed research articles on the mentioned topics. He can be reached at isabasit@ntu.edu.sg

 

Dr Julian Droogan & Lise Waldek, Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism, Macquarie University

‘Deception, deradicalisation and evaluation: the ethics of academic engagement’

This paper contributes to the literature exploring the ethics and justification of deception in Countering Violent Extremist research. Identifying and addressing these emerging ethical challenges is critical given the continued emphasis from academia and government on the production of effective and transparent evaluations of CVE programs. Drawing on a case study from Australia, the paper argues that the ethical limitations required for the deployment of deception limit its overall effectiveness as a tool for online deradicalisation. In the process of this evaluation, the paper provides space for critical reflection on the ethical issues that arise for those engaged in academic evaluation of such projects. The case study examined in the paper created a social media platform, designed to emulate forums that exist to discuss and disseminate extremist content, so to attract vulnerable individuals and engage them in one-on-one dialogue for the purposes of deradicalisation. The paper outlines the academic evaluation of the social media platform and the resulting engagement identifying a series of technical and ethical issues that have limited the overall effectiveness of the deployment of deception as means of deradicalisation. It highlights the ethical challenges that arise during academic evaluations of CVE programs that use methods such as deception particularly in relation to issues of informed consent and assessment of benefits to society. Drawing on the work by Guillemin and Gillan (2004) on micro-ethics, the paper identifies a growing requirement for reflexive ethical capabilities in academic communities in order to facilitate engagement in evaluations of complex CVE programs. 

Bio notes

Dr. Julian Droogan: Julian Droogan is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University where he is the editor of the Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism (Routledge) and director of internationalisation. Julian participates in a number of funded research projects including an ARC Discovery grant examining the relationship between online extremist materials and audience reactions. Julian has worked on social cohesion projects, including the construction of the NSW COMPACT societal resilience program. His research on Islamist extremist propaganda focusses on producing thematic maps of narrative themes and how these can be used to generate effective counter narratives. Julian.droogan@mq.edu.au

Lise Waldek: Lise Waldek is Lecturer at the Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University. Prior to moving into academia, Lise worked for the UK Ministry of Defence and Home Office leading teams’ providing socio-cultural analysis on security issues. Lise is engaged in several funded research projects including an ARC Discovery grant examining the relationship between online extremist content and audience reactions. Her work on resilience and evaluation includes the design of the NSW COMPACT societal resilience program. Lise is engaged in a multi-disciplinary research project examining the effectiveness of deceptive social media content on voting patterns in the 2016 US election.  Lise.waldek@mq.edu.au

 

Professor Kevin Dunn and Rachel Sharples, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University

‘Beyond the politics of wariness: Sydney Muslim community dispositions towards CVE policing’

Our research with the Sydney Muslim community found perceptions of procedural unfairness of CVE laws. Nonetheless, preparedness to co-operate with police on general crime issues was very high (over 90%), with only one-in-twenty stating they would be unlikely to assist, or report, to police. Respondent views on assisting with CVE policing were also a majority disposition (over 80%) with only one-in-ten saying they would be unlikely to co-operate. However, there was elevated wariness to assist police if the CVE action involved respondents advocating co-operation with peers and others across the Muslim communities. There is a stated wariness to assist if it requires it to be done publically. The overwhelming majority of contact between CT Command and persons at risk of VE do not lead to arrests or trials, but instead take the form of diversions and other positive outcomes. These stories are perhaps not well known. These findings point to the important political discourses of CVE, and the need to better understand the sources of these hesitancies/wariness. We map a process for developing counter discourses.

Bio note

Kevin Dunn is Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Psychology and Professor in Human Geography and Urban Studies, and commenced at Western Sydney University in May 2008. His areas of research include: immigration and settlement; Islam in Australia; the geographies of racism; and local government and multiculturalism. Recent books include Landscapes: Ways of Imagining the World (2003) and Introducing Human Geography: Globalisation, Difference and Inequality (2000). He is Lead Dean for Global Rankings at WSU and Provost of the Penrith campus.

 

Assistant Professor Dayyab Gillani, University of the Punjab, Lahore

‘Tread Carefully: Perils of studying religious extremism in religious societies’

From September 11 attacks to the 2014 Peshawar school massacre, our so-called age of terrorism, despite being fairly composite, is characterized principally by religious extremism. This is not to suggest that religious extremism is the only real or relevant manifestation of terrorism but merely to attest to the fact that the issue receives paramount attention in the contemporary discourse on terrorism and political violence.

While the dangers of religious extremism have been highlighted on numerous academic forums, the perils of conducting research on the subject are either ignored or taken for granted. Additionally, if and when the issue is highlighted, it is usually limited to ethical considerations and accessibility issues. What is neglected and frequently overlooked is the issue of conducting such research in religious societies that not only share core religious beliefs with the extremists but also sympathize with their cause, and in some cases even their modus operandi.In a religious society like Pakistan, where freedom of expression is narrowly defined by an overarching religious doctrine, determining the difference between what is acceptable to say or not on religious matters is an extremely complicated affair. And although terrorism is widely condoned and the terrorists are generally shunned, the society at large remains agnostic at best to the message extremists preach and the goal they serve.

Asking specific questions about the motivations of extremists and their core fundamental beliefs often raises awkward questions about the society’s own collective belief system. Additionally, since all such societies are essentially divided and have layers of religiosity, determining the religious threshold of individuals and formulating the subsequent questions thereof presents both a serious research challenge and an ethical dilemma. Taking Pakistan as a case study, this paper will look at some of these very serious challenges. It will show how most of our research on religious extremism is often devoid of such content and context and what needs be done to undo such wrong. Furthermore, it is hoped that the paper will serve as a guideline for all future researchers that intend to study religious extremism in a religious society. dayyabgillani.polsc@pu.edu.pk

Bio note

Dr Gillani holds a Masters degree in Politics from the University of Warwick and a PhD in IR from the University of St Andrews, UK. Dr Gillani is a Fellow of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK. He is currently working with Lynne Renoir on a book adapted from his PhD thesis titled: ‘The definitional dilemma of terrorism: Seeking clarity in light of terrorism scholarship.’ He has been commissioned by Cambridge University Press to write the section on Pakistan in its forthcoming book, The Cambridge History of Terrorism.

 

Professor Michele Grossman and Dr Vivian Gerrand, Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University

‘Terrorism confidential: Managing primary data and the construction of “necessary fictions”’

A persistent critique of terrorism research -- particularly when it comes to terrorist networks, behaviours and trajectories – has been the field’s overreliance on secondary data sources, such as media reporting, court transcripts and other public domain resources. While researchers’ use of empirically grounded primary source material – for example, interviews with terrorists and those around them, or surveillance and investigation data -- has increased since 2007 (Schuurman 2018), this raises new concerns around the risks, ethics and vulnerabilities involved in dealing with primary source data.

One of the central paradoxes of working with primary source data is the need to fictionalise key elements in order to meet a variety of ethical obligations and expectations. This need is based on various considerations.  These include constraints relating to police or security investigations; participant expectations around identity protection, and deflecting the predatory expectations by some media outlets who seek to reach human sources directly through ‘clues’ derived from primary research.

As Michel Foucault has observed (1997), ethics is the considered form that freedom takes when it is informed by reflection. What freedoms are available, or permissible, for researchers in relation to dealing with primary data in terrorism research? How do they enable the researcher to construct herself as a ‘moral subject’ in relation to her field of inquiry? What are the ethical issues posed by the construction of ‘necessary fictions’ in dealing with such material? In seeking to minimise vulnerabilities for participants, do we create other vulnerabilities for the field when using such strategies? We will attempt to address these challenges in the course of our presentation.

References

Schuurman, Bart. (2018) ‘Research on Terrorism, 2007–2016: A Review of Data, Methods, and Authorship’. Terrorism and Political Violence, March online, DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2018.1439023

Foucault, Michel.  The Essential Works of Michel Foucault, vol. 1:  Ethics:  Subjectivity and Truth, ed. Paul Rabinow.  New York:  The New Press, 1997.

Bio notes

Professor Michele Grossman: Michele Grossman holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from Monash University and is Professor and Research Chair in Diversity and Community Resilience at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, where she also convenes the AVERT Research Network. Prior to joining Deakin University in 2017, she worked at Victoria University for 27 years, serving from 2013-2017 as the Director of VU’s Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing. Michele’s research and policy impacts in the area of terrorism research centre on understanding and mobilising community capital and perspectives in preventing and countering violent extremism. The author of numerous research articles, chapters and reports in this field, she has delivered keynotes and presentations at numerous national and international conferences and forums in her areas of expertise. Michele holds a Visiting Professorship at University of Huddersfield in the UK and a Robert Schuman Fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence, where she serves as co-investigator on a Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Award exploring secularism, the governance of religion and trajectories of radicalisation. Michele.grossman@deakin.edu.au

Dr Vivian Gerrand: Dr Vivian Gerrand coordinates the AVERT network and is a Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University. In 2017-18, Vivian was an Endeavour and a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. She is currently researching young people’s use of online image-making to build resilience to violent extremism. Vivian completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne on Somali migration and belonging and is the author of a range of publications including Possible Spaces of Somali Belonging (Melbourne University Press, 2016). Vivian.gerrand@deakin.edu.au

 

Dr Susie Latham, Curtin University, and Adel Salman, Vice President, Islamic Council of Victoria

‘CVE researcher obligations to Muslim children’

More than 40 per cent of Australians have negative attitudes towards Muslims (Yosufzai, 2017). Parents of Muslim children fear their children will be scrutinised more carefully than others as Islamophobia is increasingly institutionalised, including through Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) training. CVE training developed by researchers at Monash University is currently being rolled out to social workers, psychologists, teachers, council workers, university staff and the general public. The ‘Preventing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation in Australia’ booklet for schools was launched in 2015, ‘Community Awareness Training’ is provided online and in person by the Australian Multicultural Foundation and the Australian Association of Social Workers has trained over 600 social workers using its Building Resilience and Preventing Radicalisation to Violent Extremism guide.

Like most CVE initiatives, the Monash project focused on the threat of Islamist terrorism and was intended for use by law enforcement. Its delivery to people who are not national security experts in an environment of widespread bigotry against and ignorance about Muslims guarantees inappropriate reporting of young Muslims. There is little evidence such training stops terrorism. However, there is evidence that the same approach, in the UK’s PREVENT program, described by the director of human rights group Liberty as ‘the biggest domestic spying programme … in Britain in modern times’ (Dodd, 2009) does harm Muslims. Of the 3704 people referred to PREVENT in 2016-17 for ‘concerns related to Islamist extremism’, only 184, or 5 per cent, were deemed to need support from the program (Home Office, 2018), undermining the trust of Muslims in state institutions and damaging social cohesion. Drawing on our personal experiences as parents of Muslim children, we argue that CVE researchers have ethical obligations to reflect on the evidence-based likelihood of serious harm to Muslim communities arising from the misuse of their research, and to take a public stand against this training.

References

Yosufzai, R. (2017), SBS, Why do 25 per cent of Australians feel negativity towards Muslims? 29 November, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/why-do-25-per-cent-of-australians-feel-negativity-towards-muslims

Dodd, V. (2009), The Guardian, Government anti-terrorism strategy 'spies' on innocent, 17 October, https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/oct/16/anti-terrorism-strategy-spies-innocents

Home Office (2018), Individuals referred to and supported through the Prevent Programme, April 2016 to March 2017, Statistical Bulletin 06/18, 27 March, p. 4, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/694002/individuals-referred-supported-prevent-programme-apr2016-mar2017.pdf

Bio notes

Dr Susie Latham: Dr Susie Latham is an Adjunct postdoctoral fellow at Curtin University, a member of the Challenging Racism Project at Western Sydney University, an executive member of the Australian Association of Islamic and Muslim studies and the co-founder of Voices against Bigotry. Her PhD research was on challenging Western stereotypes of Muslim women. Susie has been written on Islamophobia in academic journals and mainstream media outlets including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and Crikey, and is also the co-author of Human Rights Overboard: Seeking Asylum in Australia, which won the Australian Human Rights Commission award for non-fiction in 2008.

Adel Salman:  Adel Salman is the Vice President and media spokesperson of the Islamic Council of Victoria. In this role, Adel focuses on policy, research, and advocacy. Adel has a particular interest in the growing problem of Islamophobia in the community, and the degree to which current CVE policies and programs are contributing to marginalisation of the Muslim community. Adel has founded a number of not-for-profit organisations including Arkan Toledo which provides services to the state education sector, and holds board positions with independent Islamic schools and advocacy organisations.  Adel is also a member of the Research Institute on Social Cohesion (RIOSC). 

 

Dr Imogen Richards, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University

‘Terrorism Sympathy, Moral Equivalence, or Strategic Appraisal? A Comparative Perspective on Far-right, Neo-jihadist, and Counterterrorist Contexts’

In the last two decades, Western and Eastern societies have experienced an intensification and escalation of transnational political violence. This began on 11 September 2001 (9/11) when Al Qaeda perpetrated symbolic and devastating attacks on the Washington Pentagon and New York World Trade Center. After ten years of United States (US)-directed military and counterterrorist action undertaken in response to 9/11, as part of the ‘global war on terror’, there occurred a mass displacement of people from Africa and the Middle East; a situation former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Stephen O’Brien described as ‘the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations [in 1945]’ (UN News 2017). From 2011 until now, in alleged response to this situation, which some term a ‘migrant crisis’, far-right wing entities in Australia, Europe, and the US have targeted Muslim populations, and migrants, while expressing violent opposition to the liberal democratic governance standards of equality, freedom, and human rights. 

Despite evidence of ideological and practical cross-pollination between international far-right entities, and discernible similarities between these entities and their ostensible neo-jihadist adversaries, researchers have been reticent to address contemporary forms political violence from a comparative perspective. Similarly, strategic security scholars have resisted exploring connections between ‘terrorism’ and ‘counterterrorism’, for fear of engaging in moral equivalence, rationalising acts of violence, and providing terrorist organisations a platform from which to propagandise.

In a political climate characterised by a ‘mainstreaming of the extreme’ in civilizational and far-right politics, and the still-extant threat posed by neo-jihadism, it has arguably become necessary to reassess the ethical imperatives that have impeded comparative research on extremism, terrorism, and counterterrorism. Drawing from the insights of critical terrorism scholarship, and the disciplinary frameworks of data science, criminology, and media studies, this paper advocates for a re-invigoration of critical, comparative perspectives, less concerned with establishing linear ‘cause-and-effect’ models to explain actions and events, than with developing an empirically grounded understanding of the dialectical and correlational nature of political violence itself.

References

UN News 2017, “UN aid chief urges global action as starvation, famine loom for 20 million across four countries”, United Nations, accessed 30 May 2018, https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/03/553152-un-aid-chief-urges-global-action-starvation-famine-loom-20-million-across-four 

Bio note

Imogen is a member of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, and a lecturer in criminology at Deakin University. She has written and published on the political-economy of neo-jihadist organisations, the dialectical nature of terrorist, counterterrorist, and extremist communications, and the ethical dimensions of hacktivism, among other subjects.  She has presented aspects of her work on comparative extremism research at events including the 2016 Vox-Pol: Mid-Project Conference: Taking Stock of Research on Violent Online Extremism at Dublin City University in the Republic of Ireland, and the 2017 Terrorism and Social Media conference at Swansea University in Wales. Imogen.richards@deakin.edu.au

 

Reem Sweid, Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University

'Exploring the problematisation of radicalisation from a post-structuralist perspective' 

This paper explores the application of a poststructuralist analysis to the problematisation of radicalisation in policy discourse. It draws analogies with  the work of Michel Foucault (Discipline and Punish and The Birth of the Clinic) to argue that changes in problematisation of preventing terrorism (i.e. radicalisation) have opened up new forms of technology, knowledge and power. As a result, it is imperative that the problematisation of radicalisation is critiqued to uncover any assumptions, ambiguities and presumptions that underpin our ‘knowledge’ of radicalisation and the new powers that have emerged with it. Academics are ethically obliged to consider what ‘events’ have led to the contemporary discourse and the discursive, subjective and lived effects produced by it in order to uncover alternative conceptualisations and approaches. This paper presents preliminary findings from Carol Bacchi’s WPR analysis of relevant government policy documents and 38 qualitative interviews with experts and policy officers.

Bio note

Reem Sweid is a doctoral student at Deakin University and a Research Assistant at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation. She received her Masters in Development Management from the London School of Economics (2007) and her Bachelors degree in International Relations and Economics from Brown University in the United States (2005). Reem’s PhD research encompasses a poststructural analysis of countering violent extremism (CVE) discourse in the United Kingdom and Australia. She has most recently worked on a research project examining multiculturalism policy and the role of intercultural dialogue and a scoping study for CVE support services.

 

Dr Matteo Vergani, Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University

‘The need for methodological transparency and accountability in terrorism research’

Evidence gathered through terrorism and extremism research aims to inform the prevention policies and programs of governments and civil society organizations. One of the main obligations of researchers to individuals and communities should be transparency and accountability of the methods used to collect the data, which allows peers and other stakeholders to scrutinise the quality of the study. Internationally, the scientific study of terrorism has been making considerable efforts to become a more mature field. However, all the systematic reviews of the field, despite showing some improvements over time, have highlighted the overall uneven quality and lack of methodological transparency of research in the field. Some scholars argue for the ‘exceptionalism’ of terrorism research, because of inherent barriers to methodological rigour and transparency such as the quality and privacy of the available data, and the social and political implications of terrorism and extremism. Other scholars argue that the future of terrorism research should be characterised by more mainstream methods used in other fields such as public health and psychology, for example through rigorous hypothesis testing, the use of non-terrorist comparison groups, the engagement in measurement issues, and standard protocols of methodological transparency. In this paper I discuss the two approaches to terrorism research, and propose that most of the existing research in terrorism studies could and should embrace more transparent, rigorous and accountable research practices.

Bio note

Matteo is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Deakin University and Senior Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation. Matteo’s major area of expertise is the study of extremism, prejudice and hate, with a main focus on the empirical evaluation of prevention and reduction programs. Matteo has experience in researching prejudice against immigrants and religious out-groups, and the online propaganda of extremist and violent political groups. He has a good working knowledge of quantitative research, experimental methods and mixed-methods research approaches

 

Assoc. Professor Deborah Zion, VU Research, Victoria University

‘“Can these bones live?” International ethics guidance and researching violent extremism and terrorism

The Declaration of Helsinki has considerable guidance on working with vulnerable research participants, and vulnerability in research is the focus of the Council for International Organizations of Medical Science (CIOMS) guidance document. The Australian document, The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research also provides guidance. All of these documents have undergone recent revisions. However, a broader question remains about these and other national guidelines; namely, how can we translate them into practice? When conducting research with highly complex ethical issues, including great vulnerability, guidelines must be operationalised with creativity so that the research imperative can be fulfilled. This is particularly the case when researching violent extremism and terrorism.

In this paper I will examine work done by Tahiri & Grossman, published in Community and Radicalisation: An Examination of Perceptions, Ideas, Beliefs and Solutions throughout Australia (2013) and discuss the issues around ethical review, and where this might either be helpful or fall short. In conclusion, I will suggest ways in which the review process might be made more meaningful.

Bio note

Associate Professor Deborah Zion is the Chair of the Victoria University Human Research ethics Committee. She has conducted research with vulnerable populations for many years, including populations with HIV/AIDS and those working with asylum seekers.