Critical terrorism studies and the far-right: Beyond problems and solutions?


Recent years have witnessed increasing academic, media, and political attention to the threat of far-right terrorism. In this article, I argue that scholarship on this threat has suffered from two limitations, each with antecedents in terrorism research more broadly. First, is an essentialist approach to this phenomenon as an extra-discursive object of knowledge to be defined, explained, catalogued, risk assessed, and (ultimately) resolved. Second, is a temptation to emphasise, even accentuate, the scale of this threat. These limitations are evident, I argue, within scholarship motivated by a problem-solving aspiration for policy relevance. They are evident too, though, within critical interventions in which a focus on far-right terrorism is seen as an important corrective to established biases and blind spots within (counter-)terrorism research and practice. In response, I argue for an approach rooted in the problematisation and desecuritisation of the far-right threat. This, I suggest, facilitates important new reflection on the far-right’s production within and beyond terrorism research, as well as on the purposes and politics of critique therein

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