A Research Agenda for Terrorism Studies
Goal: Where is research on terrorism going? What are the big questions? How can they be answered? Terrorism and counterterrorism have always been challenging subjects to study. Emotive and controversial, throughout the 20th century the study of both lurked on the fringes of scientific research. There were few scholars willing to commit their careers to the area, funding was extremely limited, and inside and outside of academia there were plenty who questioned whether terrorism and counterterrorism were even appropriate subjects for scientific study, and questioned too the motives of any researcher willing to explore such controversial issues.
The attacks of 9/11 heralded a huge increase in political, public and academic interest in terrorism and counterterrorism. The ‘global war on terror’ and its various legacies have dominated international politics in the opening decades of the 21st century. Never before in history have the issues of what causes terrorism and how should it be combatted attracted so much attention and controversy. The study of terrorism itself has been catapulted from academic obscurity to a mainstream multi-disciplinary subject routinely taught at most universities. Terrorism Studies now produces an unprecedented level of research and writing, though the quality of much of this leaves something to be desired, at times suffering from weak research methods, conceptual confusion and political bias.
And yet, while there are certainly problems, overall, terrorism research is still remarkably vibrant and prolific, and amid a herd of mediocre studies in many areas there are still real gems which offer findings of genuine progress and insight. Overall, it is very likely that future scholars will look back at this period as a critically important and transformational phase for research on terrorism and counterterrorism.
Bearing in mind this rich and varied context, A Research Agenda for Terrorism Studies aims to provide a wide-ranging overview of the current state of and recent trends in terrorism research, to explore its strengths and weaknesses, the impact it is having (or is failing to have) on policy and practice, and crucially on the future directions terrorism studies could and should take.
Currently drawing on the work of 26 contributors, the finished volume will be published in 2021 by Edward Elgar Publishing as part of their Research Agenda series. The Elgar Research Agendas outline the future of research in a given area and provide leading scholars with the space to explore their subject in provocative ways, and map out the potential directions of travel. They are intended to be relevant but also visionary.
The collection’s draft titles are included and periodic updates will follow.