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From 20th Century troubles to 21st Century international terrorism: identity, securitization, and British counterterrorism from 1968 to 2011

Fisher, Kathryn (2012) From 20th Century troubles to 21st Century international terrorism: identity, securitization, and British counterterrorism from 1968 to 2011. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is an exploration into the consequential interrelation of official British discourse, identity, securitization, and counterterrorism from 1968 to 2011. Through a relational-securitization approach, the thesis narrative explains how discourse is both constitutive and causal for outcomes in a particular case. It is a relational mechanism based analysis that investigates how observed rhetorical commonplaces came together to influence intersubjective understanding and security practice. The ways that identities were temporarily stabilized across discourse through particular configurations was essential to how British counterterrorism emerged, was maintained, and became normalized. The thesis does not argue that possible insecurities categorized as “terrorism” do not exist, or that a security response is in itself surprising. However, how this response unfolded was not predetermined, and instead depended upon a securitization of terrorism along distinctive patterns of us/them construction. These patterns influenced the trajectory of counterterrorism by enabling certain outcomes to arise over others. Collective understandings of identity shape the conditions of possibility for political action. As such, discourses of securitization have a causal impact over intersubjective understanding and counterterrorism ractice. Historical moments, such as the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings or 11 September 2001 attacks, can facilitate a more rapid passage of exceptional measures. But the maintenance and normalization of these powers depends upon us/them and inside/outside boundary markers. Violent acts may thus influence outcomes, but they do not determine their substance or direction. Reasserted and/or reconfigured perceptions of distance and danger stabilizing the threat and referent in particular ways played a key role in counterterrorism’s transition from emergency response to permanent practice. Through a relational-securitization approach, analysis can better map out how processes of identity construction were essential to the securitization of terrorism, and contributed to the emergence, legitimation, and normalization of British counterterrorism from 1968 to 2011.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Kathryn Fisher
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Lawson, George and Buzan, Barry

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