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Terrorism and Political Violence

The Terrorism and Political Violence cluster encompasses a range of expertise on how actors respond to the global challenges of terrorism, political violence, and violent extremism. We have pioneered research on the root causes of terrorism globally and have regional expertise on political violence in the Middle East. Our current research examines the politics of responses to terrorism, insurgency and violent extremism which deal with the following questions: how have global powers sold the War on Terror to their publics; how are militias and rebel groups understood in counterinsurgency doctrines; and how do publics understand and support de-radicalisation and CVE interventions aimed at addressing these global challenges.  A major priority of our research is to ensure it feeds into practical solutions for addressing these challenges, whether this refers to the challenges they pose themselves or issues that arise from actors seeking to address them. This research theme is led by Dr Gordon Clubb, and, in particular, this cluster benefits from significant funded doctoral and postdoctoral research in terrorism and political violence.

Prevent and de-radicalisation

We research public attitudes to Prevent and de-radicalisation, in partnership with UK Prevent practitioners and NGOs.

Highlight: Dr Gordon Clubb's research makes use of surveys to measure public attitudes to Prevent and explore factors which influence support for the re-integration of terrorist offenders. His current funded research provides the most detailed account yet of how international media sells de-radicalisation programmes to the public, developing important lessons for practitioners on the public relations of CVE interventions.

Highlight: Dr Natalie James' research has developed an interdisciplinary, intersectional approach to examining counter-terrorism policy. This work demonstrates how conceptualisations of threat emerge and become blurred as a result of limitations and challenges during enactments of the Prevent duty within further educational institutions. Notably, this research is the first to provide empirical evidence on the role of the far-right in relation to the Prevent duty. Dr James is head of the counter-extremism research unit at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right.

Selling the War on Terror

Our cluster is a peak of excellence for understand how counter-terrorism policies are understood by the wider public, especially on how governments have sold the War on Terror to publics. We have also examined public perceptions of and support for counterterrorism policies such as drone strikes as well as their impact on terrorist violence in the case of sanctions.

Highlight: Professor Jack Holland's research is known for its analysis of the language of counter-terrorism. His work has shown how political leaders in the US, UK and Australia persuade their audiences and coerce doubters into supporting military interventions. This research has led to recent collaborations with the FCDO and MoD in the UK, as well as equivalent organisations in the US, Australia, and Canada.

Highlight: Dr Nick Robinson analyses the way in which video games and social media represent conflicts during the War on Terror. Exploring their political consequences, key questions include - do military games build support in the public at large for the War on Terror? How do people use social media and how does this shape their political views? Does social media result in radicalisation and how important is the growth of military content on social media to the public? This research has recently been funded by a large four-year grant from the Swedish Research Council and led to collaborations with RUSI.

Highlight: Our doctoral team has considered the discursive construction of threat of terrorism around the world. Current research includes Marine Guéguin's work on France and Harry Swinhoe's analysis of ISIL's language. While recent Drs Ben Fermor and Ryan O'Connor have published in BJPIR, Global Affairs, Politics, and Political Psychology on issues such as the political language of Donald Trump, the role of emotion in political narratives, and discourses of de-radicalisation.

The global challenge of political violence

We have pioneered research on the root causes of terrorism globally and have regional expertise on political violence in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. We have recently concluded a project funded by the Qatar National Research Fund on the relationship between food riots and political violence.

Highlight: Dr Euan Raffle's ESRC-funded postdoctoral fellowship explores the language, policy, and political violence of the war on drugs in the Philippines.

Highlight: Professor Ted Newman's work is renowned for its contributions to explorations of the root causes of political violence.

Highlight: Dr James Worrall’s Gerda Henkel-funded research project, ‘Dancing with Devils’ explores how militias and rebel groups are understood in counterinsurgency doctrines, and how these understandings are generated. This project explores the factors that shape whether and how militias and rebel groups are integrated into these doctrines across a range of Western and non-Western case studies.

Highlight: Estefania Pizarro's doctoral research explores distributive injustice during the War on Drugs in Colombia and Mexico. Pizarro has international experience working in war and post-war contexts in Latin America, with a particular focus on human rights violations. Previously she has worked for the United Nations as part of the peace process between the former guerrilla FARC-EP and the Colombian government, and has contributed to the key reports of various international organisations in cases of grave human rights violations involving forced disappearances and torture, such as the Ayotzinapa case in Mexico.

Highlight: CGSC possesses significant regional expertise on the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. One example of our collaborations in this area focuses on the history, development and challenges of Hezbollah. This work was led by Drs Gordon Clubb and James Worrall.

Exploring State Vigilantism and International Responsibility in the Context

This fellowship builds upon my PhD and previously published work to examine the role of the Philippine state in carrying out crimes against humanity during its war on drugs. The project will also scrutinise the role of civil society in the Philippines in bringing the war on drugs before the International Criminal Court, which has led to a full investigation into crimes against humanity. In doing so, the project will address the lacuna in the literature around state responsibility for human rights abuses and extrajudicial killing in the context of the war on drugs.


Through our work with the German Institute for Radicalization and De-Radicalization Studies, we are helping to produce policy guidelines. Our collaboration with GIRDS is led by Dr Gordon Clubb.

Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right

The Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right is a UK-based research centre and pedagogical outreach initiative focused on the study and countering of radical right extremism and intersecting phenomena (e.g. populism, gender, antisemitism, and Islamophobia) that aims to support a variety of mainstream groups, from government agencies to grass-roots charities, through podcasts, commentary, research reports, presentations, media interviews and commissioned work. Dr Natalie James leads our collaboration with C4RR.

ICCT at The Hague

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) is an independent think and do tank providing multidisciplinary policy advice and practical, solution-oriented implementation support on prevention and the rule of law, two vital pillars of effective counter-terrorism. Our collaboration with ICCT is led by Dr Gordon Clubb.