Is Critical Terrorism Studies a useful approach to the study of terrorism?
Authors: Baker-Beall, C. and Ginty, R.M.
The growth of terrorism as a distinct field of study can be traced back to the late 1960s and early 1970s when terrorism studies first began to emerge as a separate sub-field of counterinsurgency and orthodox security studies. Developed primarily through contributions from a small group of ‘terrorism experts’, such as Martha Crenshaw, Bruce Hoffman, Brian Jenkins and Walter Laqueur (to name but a few), these scholars played a key role in establishing the boundaries of the field through the development of various concepts, theories and methods (Ranstorp 2009). Yet, whilst terrorism studies has undoubtedly done much for our understanding of terrorism, it is also fair to say that research on terrorism has ‘a deeply troubled past’ (Silke 2004: 1). For many years, terrorism research was consigned to the margins of the social sciences and conducted by just a few dozen experienced researchers. This meant that the study of terrorism was frequently neglected and conducted in the gaps that exist between the major academic disciplines. Outside of the small group of dedicated terrorism researchers mentioned above, much of the literature has been the work of one-time authors (Silke 2003a). This is positive in the sense that it has helped to promote intellectual diversity. However, it is also problematic in that many of the individuals involved in pushing our understanding of terrorism forward have lacked either the knowledge or the qualifications to make informed contributions to the field (Ranstorp 2009).