Constructions of Terrorism Project: Related Events

Constructions of Terrorism Conference

TRENDS Research & Advisory and the Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies will host a public conference on December 3 and 4, 2015 on Constructions of Terrorism. The conference will take place at the University of California, Santa Barbara,USA.

The conference will debate and discuss how terrorism and acts of terrorism are understood and explained. There will be interdisciplinary contributions investigating how states and societies construct understandings and categories of terrorism and extremism. By investigating how understandings of terrorism are constructed it is hoped we can contribute to the development of more effective strategies for countering the extremist ideas that lead to the acts labelled as terrorism.

Links to Conference Information:

Conference RSVP

Schedule of Presentations

Paper Abstracts

Presenter Biographies

More Info

Conference RSVP

You are cordially invited to attend the Constructions of Terorrism conference. Attendance and lunch are free but we do request that you submit an RSVP by no later than Monday, November 23, indicating which days you plan to attend in order to ensure enough lunch for attendees. You may reply by downloading and filling out the form found at the following link:

Constructions of Terrorism RSVP Form - Confirmation of Attendance

Confirmation of attendance should be sent to the Orfalea Center program director, Victor Faessal, at the following e-mail address:

*Lunch is provided only on the basis of advance reservations.*

Schedule of Presentations

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Location: Annenberg Room, SSMS 4315

Time Event / Paper Title Speaker Download
0915-0930 Introduction of Dr. Ahmed & Dean Oliver with Remarks    
0930-0945 Introduction Overflow & "Constructions Intro" Stohl  
0945-1030 Can Terrorism Be Defined? Stampnitzky PDF
1030-1045 Break    
1045-1130 Misoverestimating Terrorism Mueller PDF
1130-1215 Defining Terrorism as Tactic Schanzer  
1215-1300 Lunch    
1300-1345 Terror as Performance Violence Juergensmeyer PDF
1345-1430 Constructing terrorism as coercion blinds us to "jujitsu politics" and the power of emotions McCauley PDF
1430-1515 The Narrative Construction of Violent Extremism Corman  
1515-1530 Break    
1530-1615 Al Qaeda in the American Consciousness: Framing how the public interprets and responds to terrorism Smith, et al  
1615-1700 Constructing the terrorist threat: the merging of the discourses of terrorism, radicalisation and extremism in the UK and its consequences Richards PDF

Friday, December 4, 2015

Location: McCune Room, HSSB 6020

Time Event / Paper Title Speaker Download
0930-1015 Ambiguities in the Terrorist Discourse and the Political Imagination of Violence Falk  
1015-1100 Legal Constructions of Terrorism Burchill  
1100-1115 Break    
1115-1200 Revisiting the Causes of Terrorism Goodwin  
1200-1245 Are the (causal) stories of different operationalizations of terrorism different? Asal PDF
1245-1330 Lunch    
1330-1415 Analyzing Pathways of Lone-Actor Radicalization: A Relational Approach Lindekilde PDF
1415-1500 Constructing Cultures of Martyrdom Bloom PDF
1500-1515 Break    
1515-1600 Introducing Government Actions in Terror Environments (GATE) Dataset Dugan PDF
1600-1630 The World vs. Daesh: Media and Elite Constructions of a Contemporary Terror Threat Englund, & Stohl PDF
1630-1730 Roundtable Discussion on Contemporary Threat Cullison, Burchill et al  

Paper Abstracts

Ambiguities in the Terrorist Discourse and the Political Imagination of Violence

Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law - Princeton University

The terrorist discourse is confused and manipulated for several reasons: to focus moral condemnation on all forms of anti-state violence and to avoid characterizing state violence even if directed at civilian targets as ‘state terrorism.’ Part of the underlying ambiguity is whether the focus of counter-terrorist action should be associated exclusively with opposition to non-state political extremism. A related issue is whether the focus of terrorism should be on the identity and ideology of the political actor or on tactics of struggle that deliberately disregard civilian innocence. Terrorist discourse is used to demonize ‘the enemy’ and mobilize public support for a political response to a conflict that does not envision a diplomatic or negotiated solution, although under certain political conditions the discourse will be abandoned and a political solution pursued.

Legal Constructions of Terrorism

Richard Burchill, Director of Research and Engagement - TRENDS Research and Advisory

Legal measures are a necessary, but not exclusive part of wider strategies for preventing terrorism or countering the causes and sources of terrorism.  Creating more law has not created more terrorism, even if it appears we are seeing more extremist activity despite the growth of legal systems.  The problem lies in the lack of clarity, consistency, certainty and predictability in the legal provisions being adopted and implemented.   Ensuring legislation related to terrorism respects these principles allows for effective application of legal measures that in turn leads to more effective domestic application and transnational cooperation.  Furthermore adherence to principles of clarity, consistency, certainty and predictability contributes to the ongoing legitimacy in both national and international jurisdictions.  When laws addressing terrorism are poorly drafted with a lack of clarity, consistency, certainty and predictability they directly contribute to the sense of grievance and marginalisation which is at the core of terrorist activity.  Furthermore, poor drafting and implementation actively impede community based efforts to counter the growth of radicalisation, as well as preventing any serious transnational cooperation in addressing and countering terrorist activity.  It clear that laws dealing with terrorism need more effective constructions, otherwise they will fail to support the eradication of terrorism.

Can Terrorism Be Defined?

Lisa Stampnitzky, Lecturer - University of Sheffield

Can "terrorism" be defined?  Should it be?   This paper will revisit the longstanding “problem of definition” in terrorism studies.   It will begin with a brief history of the coalescence of terrorism as a concept, and the extent to which the problem of definition was present from the emergence of the concept in its contemporary form.  It will then revisit key turns in the debate over how to define terrorism, and whether or not a settled, agreed-upon definition is even possible.  I will argue that although individual scholars have proposed coherent definitions, the persistent role of the state as the key arbiter of what constitutes “terrorism” (and the interest of most states in retaining leeway/ambiguity as to how this concept is applied) leaves little room for non-state actors to intervene decisively in the conceptual arena.   I thus propose a de-construction and re-construction of the conceptualization of forms of political violence, including those  often referred to by scholars within the framework “terrorism.”

Defining Terrorism as Tactic

David H. Schanzer, Associate Professor of the Practice - Duke Sanford School of Public Policy

Many of the definitions of terrorism include specifications of the type of actor, the actor’s motivation, and the type of target.  All of these break-down upon close examination.  Terrorism is most properly thought of as a tactic that is used by a range of actors (individuals, non-state actors and states), for a variety of purposes (individual glorification, establishing group hierarchy, group competition, opposition to the state, or state suppression of dissent) with a range of targets (civilians, private infrastructure, or government facilities).   Terrorism is the use of random, highly visible and well publicized violence to achieve some purpose by creating fear.  Understanding terrorism as a tactic – akin to tactics like conventional warfare or murder for hire – and ridding us of particularly useless concepts like a “war on terror” or even “counter-terrorism” will help bring clarity to the current sprawl of post-9/11 security policy.

Terror as Performance Violence

Mark Juergensmeyer, Professor of Sociology and Global Studies - University of California, Santa Barbara

What is the point of terrorism? Scores of interviews that I have made over the years with religious activists involved in violence have convinced me that acts that we consider terrorism have a strikingly similar purpose: they are meant as performances of power. They are dramatic acts meant to intimidate, but they are also a symbolic show of strength by individuals or movements that often, in fact, have little real power to rely upon. The larger drama for which these performances are both rehearsal and invocation is the awesome specter of cosmic war. To see terrorist acts solely as strategic tactics, therefore, often misses the larger picture of those perpetrating them, activists caught up in an image of themselves as soldiers in a transforming war for which their acts of violence are meant as expressions of symbolic empowerment.

Constructing terrorism as coercion blinds us to “jujitsu politics” and the power of emotions

Clark McCauley, Research Professor of Psychology - Bryn Mawr College

Governments, journalists, and even some academics identify terrorism as violence intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or its government.  This construction, which assumes an explanation in the very definition of the phenomenon to be explained, blinds us to other terrorist goals: justice and revenge, attention and status for the terrorists and their cause, and outbidding competing groups.  For these goals, the primary audience is not the target of violence but the pyramid of sympathizers and supporters on whom the terrorists depend.  Indeed terrorists often aim to provoke outrage and over-reaction rather than fear, trusting that the over-reaction will increase support for the terrorist cause.   The 9/11 attacks and Islamic State executions are examples of this “jujitsu politics” at work.  More generally, constructing terrorism as violence intended to terrorize is part of a larger blindness to the dynamic of action and reaction that must be understood for effective response to terrorism.  This dynamic is not a chess game of rational choices but an interplay of emotions, including not only fear but pride, shame, anger, and humiliation.

The Narrative Construction of Violent Extremism

Steven Corman, Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and Director of the Center for Strategic Communication - Arizona State University

To the casual observer, terrorists seem irrational.  Their efforts rarely if ever result in the political goals they claim, yet they continue to commit atrocities and cling to lost causes.  Abrhams (2008) argues that terrorist groups are not strategic in the normal sense of the work, but rather do what they do in order to develop strong affective ties with other terrorist members.  In this presentation I outline the key role narrative plays in developing group identity and cohesion in terrorist groups, and the audiences they seek to influence.  The main mechanism they use for this purpose is vertical integration, the linkage of socio-culture master narratives with present-day events and the personal narratives of group members.  I illustrate this with examples from al Qaeda, the Rapist State, and other well-known extremists.

Al Qaeda in the American Consciousness: Framing how the public interprets and responds to terrorism

Benjamin K. Smith, Scott Englund, Andrea Figueroa-Caballero, and Michael Stohl – Department of Communication & Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Constructing the terrorist threat: the merging of the discourses of terrorism, radicalisation and extremism in the UK and its consequences

Anthony Richards, Reader - University of East London, School of Business and Law

This paper argues that the UK has recently seen the merging of the discourses of terrorism, radicalisation, and extremism, evident in the Prevent concern with extremist but non-violent ideology that is said to be ‘conducive’ to terrorism. This convergence has blurred the important distinction between extremism of thought and extremism of method when countering terrorism. One of the consequences of the characterisation or ‘construction’ of the terrorist threat as including non-violent but extremist ideology is that those who hold such beliefs, but who are non-violent, are excluded as potential partners and dissuaders against what counter-terrorism should really be concerned with: preventing acts of terrorism. Hence one can have the paradoxical situation of those who might adamantly urge peaceful methods, and who might be willing partners against the use of violence, but who are nevertheless seen as part of the ‘terrorist problem’ – an unhelpful counter-terrorism conundrum. The concern is that contemporary counter-terrorism in the UK has itself become increasingly ideological.

Misoverestimating Terrorism

John Mueller, Professor of Political Science - Ohio State University

While it is not true that 9/11 “changed everything,” the tragedy did have a strong impact on language, on how terrorism has come to be understood and explained. First, its apparent incidence has been multiplied by effectively re-defining insurgency as terrorism.  Accordingly, the category of “civil war” may be in the process of going out of existence—and the same could even happen for much international war. Second, extrapolating wildly from the apparent capacities of the 9/11 hijackers, the threat presented internationally by small bands of terrorists has been greatly exaggerated, sometimes even to the point of deeming it to be existential. This paper examines these issues, and it also assesses the limited importance of the terrorism phenomenon more generally.

Revisiting the Causes of Terrorism

Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology - New York University

Little progress has been made in formulating an empirically supported causal account or theory of terrorism. This is perhaps not surprising, since there are several competing definitions of what terrorism is. One might even question whether a general causal theory of terrorism is possible, whichever definition one chooses, because of the vastly different contexts in which terrorism has been utilized by one group (or state) or another and the very different goals which such groups and states have had. And yet purely ad hoc (and post hoc) accounts of terrorism seem problematic. This paper outlines what a general theory of terrorism ought, at least in principle, to explain. It reviews several existing theories of terrorism and finds them wanting. And it outlines an alternative theory which is general, parsimonious, falsifiable, and empirically supported by a wide range of cases.

Analyzing Pathways of Lone-Actor Radicalization: A Relational Approach

Lasse Lindekilde, Associate Professor of Political Science - Aarhus University

The typical media depiction of a lone-actor terrorist is that of a ‘lone wolf’ – an isolated loner, who strikes out of nowhere. However, terrorist lone actors not only vary significantly with respect to the degree of social isolation in which they operate, but also with respect to the ways in which they interact with other militant activists, radical milieus, or virtual communities during the process of radicalization. In this paper we argue that analyzing relational configurations and their evolution over time offers a way of identifying patterns and mechanisms of lone-actor radicalization. Relational patterns are informative not only because they locate and specify sources of radicalizing exposure, but also because social ties are cardinal vectors of intervention. Based on theoretical perspectives developed in the literature on terrorism and political violence as well as social movement studies, the paper develops an analytical framework to examine pathways of lone-actor radicalization, which emphasizes different types and functions of social ties as well as relational settings. The approach’s usefulness is illustrated by applying it to one in-depth case. In the discussion part of the paper, we point to a few potential main types of lone-actors based on the extent and form of their social embeddedness, and contrast this to the media construction of lone-actor terrorists.

Constructing Cultures of Martyrdom

Mia Bloom, Professor of Communication - Georgia State University

Child terrorists are not ‘born’ – their involvement in terrorism develops over an extended period of time in which they are exposed to ‘cultures of martyrdom’ and parents are groomed to willingly give the movement access.  The environment in which ‘cultures of martyrdom’ flourish, e.g., the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or among Jihadis, is based on an extreme appreciation of the afterlife. The first step in preparing children for martyrdom requires death to be more attractive than life. To paraphrase the Jihadi viewpoint, the difference between the West and the Islamic world is that ‘they love death more than we love life.’ By fetishizing the afterlife and emphasizing the benefits of martyrdom, it has become easier for terrorist organizations to convince young people to volunteer for suicide operations. The ‘culture of martyrdom’ requires religious sanction and the promise of religious justification/reward. The paper will examine the various elements of “cultures of martyrdom” comparing Jihadi examples with Thatkodai in Sri Lanka (among the Tamil Tigers).

Introducing Government Actions in Terror Environments (GATE) Dataset

Laura Dugan, Professor - Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland

Much effort has been exerted to develop terrorist incident databases that capture details of terrorist attacks across the globe.  With these data, scholars and policy experts can observe patterns of attacks across regions, by specific terrorist organizations, and over time.  Further, such data allow us to assess the relationship between possible causal factors, such as political climate and economy on the inception and rise of terrorist violence.  These databases also allow us to assess the effectiveness of government interventions on reducing terrorism.  Consequently, quantitative analysis of terrorism has grown substantially over recent years.  Yet, when we raise the question of what does and does not work to reduce terrorist violence, we are limited to only those interventions that are explicitly publicized as counterterrorism.  Missing from analysis are government actions that fall outside the purview of counterterrorism, yet plausibly affect terrorist violence either directly through the organizations or indirectly through their constituencies.  This paper introduces a new way to collect data on what governments do and presents descriptive accounts of conciliatory and repressive actions by governments relative to terrorist attacks in several countries.  We also present an overview of findings that assesses the effects of conciliatory and repressive actions that are targeted both discriminately and indiscriminately on terrorist violence.

Are the (causal) stories of different operationalizations of terrorism different?

Victor Asal, Associate Professor - State University of New York, Albany

The argument over what terrorism is has been ongoing in academia for more than 50 years from those that define any kind of threat of violence or violence by nonstate actors as terrorism to those that restrict terrorism to just attacks against civilians to those that point out that much of the violence against civilians is perpetrated by states and thus we need to include the state in the definition of terrorism.    What has been missing in much of this discussion has been the analytical ramifications of different operationalizations of terrorism.  Focusing on nonstate terrorism this paper examines empirically if the causal story of what explains incidents of terrorism at the state level changes if we change how we are defining and thus operationalizing terrorism by examining how factors like regime type, state repression and state wealth have (or do not have) different impacts on the likelihood of the amount of terrorist incidents a country is likely to suffer if we operationalize terrorism differently.

The World vs. Daesh: Constructing a Contemporary Terrorist Threat

Scott Englund, and Michael Stohl – Department of Communication & Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

The contemporary threat posed by Daesh (the Islamic State, ISIL/ISIS) has been constructed in three distinguishable ways, and the events of early November 2015 caused many media analysts and government officials—in the US and Europe—to re-evaluate and sometimes conflate these constructions. The three main constructions are: 1.) Dash as the so-called “Caliphate,” an insurgency based in Iraq and Syria, 2.) Daesh as the exporter of violent extremism via regional “affiliates” and a highly capable propaganda arm, and 3.) Daesh as a hidden threat, a “Trojan Horse” of terrorists hidden among refugees, or as Western passport holders returning from the fight in Iraq and Syria. As these three constructions become conflated, they result in the miss-application of counter-terror efforts, some of which have the potential for being counter-productive. Each construction contains some truth, and each requires a distinct response.

Presenter Biographies

Richard Falk

Professor Emeritus of International Law - Princeton University

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Fellow at the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. Professor Falk is the author, co-author, or editor of more than thirty books and numerous essays. He is Chair of the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a member of the World Federalist Institute, the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, and the Advisory Board for the American Movement for World Government. 

Richard Burchill

Director of Research and Engagement - TRENDS Research and Advisory

Dr. Richard Burchill is the Director of Research and Engagement at TRENDS Research and Advisory, Abu Dhabi, UAE.  Previously he was in the Law School at the University of Hull, UK and has taught in the UK, Germany, Malaysia, and Canada.  He has been an expert speaker on issues of international law, human rights and counter-terrorism for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and the George C. Marshall Centre for Security Studies.

Lisa Stampnitzky

Lecturer - University of Sheffield

Lisa Stampnitzky is Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sheffield, and completed her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California at Berkeley.  Her award-winning book, Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented “Terrorism” (Cambridge University Press, 2013), addresses the question of how the contemporary concept of “terrorism” took shape, arguing that those acts we now call terrorism, such as hijackings and assassinations, were previously understood through a completely different framework: that of insurgency committed by rational strategic actors. However, over the course of the 1970s and 1980s, understandings of political violence was overtaken by a new discourse of "terrorism," effected through the emergence of a new arena of expertise spanning universities, think tanks, and state agencies. Her current book project, How Torture Became Speakable, aims to explain the puzzle of why the post-9/11 war on terror has been characterized by the open justification of practices that violate human rights norms, such as torture and assassination.

David H. Schanzer

Associate Professor of the Practice - Duke Sanford School of Public Policy

David H. Schanzer is an Associate Professor of the Practice at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy and Director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.  He is also an Adjunct Professor of Public Policy and Peace, War and Defense at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.  In these capacities, he teaches courses and conducts research on counter-terrorism strategy, counterterrorism law, and homeland security.  Prior to his academic appointments, Schanzer was the Democratic Staff Director for the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security from 2003-2005.  He served as the legislative director for Senator Jean Carnahan (2001-2002), counsel to Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (1996-1998), and counsel to Senator William S. Cohen (1994-1996).  His positions in the executive branch include Special Counsel, Office of General Counsel, Department of Defense (1998-2001) and Trial Attorney, United States Department of Justice (1992-94).  Schanzer was a clerk for United States District Judge Norma L. Shapiro and in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States.

Mark Juergensmeyer

Professor of Sociology and Global Studies - University of California, Santa Barbara

Mark Juergensmeyer is professor of sociology and global studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the founding chair of the Global Studies Department and founding director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies. He is author or editor of over twenty books, including the award-winning Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, based on interviews with religious activists around the world, soon to be published in a revised fourth edition, and the recently-published co-authored God in the Tumult of the Global Square: Religion in Global Civil Society. He is former president of the American Academy of Religion, and is the recipient of the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, the Silver Medal of the Queen Sofia Center for the Study of Violence in Spain, and honorary doctorates from Lehigh University in the United States and Roskilde University in Denmark. He recently joined a five-year research team based at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, that will focus on the topic, “Resolving Jihadist Armed Conflicts.” 

Clark McCauley

Research Professor of Psychology - Bryn Mawr College

Clark McCauley is Research Professor of Psychology at Bryn Mawr College.  He received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970; his research interests include stereotypes, group dynamics, and the psychological foundations of terrorism, ethnic conflict and genocide.  He is co-author of Why Not Kill Them All? The Logic and Prevention of Mass Political Murder (2006), co-author of Friction: How radicalization happens to them and us (2011), and founding editor of the journal Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict: Pathways toward Terrorism and Genocide.  He is a lead investigator with the National Consortium for Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) for research supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Steven Corman

Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and Director of the Center for Strategic Communication - Arizona State University

Steven R.  Corman (Ph.D. University of Illinois, 1988) is a Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and Director of the Center for Strategic Communication at Arizona State University. Since 2001 he has served as an invited participant on numerous national and international workshops and symposia on counterterrorism, strategic communication and public diplomacy.  In 2011 he was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and Senior Consortium Research Fellow at the Army Research Institute.  In 2003-2005 he was a member of the Scientist Panel for the Strategic Operations Working Group at U.S. Special Operations Command.  He has given invited presentations and briefings for, US MISOC, NATO SACEUR, the NATO 2012 Strategic Communication Conference, the NATO Center of Excellence for Defense Against Terrorism, USJFCOM/USSOCOM, Asia Pacific Program for Senior National Security Officers, Marshall Center for European Security Studies, Army War College, and the US State Department, among others.  Corman is author, editor and/or co-editor of the books Narrating the Exit from Afghanistan (Spring, 2013, CSC) and Master Narratives of Islamic Extremism (Spring 2011, Palgrave), Weapons of Mass Persuasion: Strategic Communication to Combat Violent Extremism (2008, Peter Lang).  Since its establishment in 2011, the Center for Strategic Communication ( has received more than $10 million from the Department of Defense for research on extremist strategic communication, and won an award for exceptional scientific achievements from the DoD Human Social Culture Behavior modeling program.

Benjamin K. Smith

Department of Communication & Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Benjamin Smith is a second-year PhD student in UCSB's Department of Communication. He is also a Graduate Research Assistant with UCSB's Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, and holds an M.S. In Communication from Portland State University, as well as a B.S. In Communication, With an Emphasis in Public Relations, from Southern Utah University.  Benjamin's research is focused broadly on measuring and understanding public opinion, as well as understanding the varying factors influence the formation and expression of opinion. His research has ranged from understanding the way cross-cutting communication moderates reactions to the NSA’s bulk collection of meta-data, to the role of media pundits in promoting post-hoc inoculation from polling results. Current projects include a critical analysis of the UK’s Public Attitudes to Science survey methodology, a look at the role of print media in shaping perceptions of al Qaeda and global terrorism, as well as the development of a model for using social media indicators to supplement polling data when predicting elections.

Scott Englund

Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Scott Englund is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a Non-Resident Fellow with Abu Dhabi based TRENDS Research and Advisory, and an adjunct professor of political science. Prior to his present academic career, Dr. Englund was a political and counter-terrorism analyst for the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; in that capacity he provided assessments for the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and other senior US policy makers. Dr. Englund has also served on the professional staff of elected officials at the federal, state and municipal level of government in the US. His primary research interests are terrorism, counter-terror policy, political communication and public opinion.

Andrea Figueroa-Caballero

Department of Communication & Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Andrea Figueroa-Caballero is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Communication at UC Santa Barbara. She holds an M.A. in Communication from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a B.A. in International Studies with a focus on Communication and Media from Texas A&M University at College Station.  Andrea's research interests focus predominately on media effects from an intergroup perspective. Most recently, her research has focused on the portrayal of racial and ethnic minorities on television, media framing of groups such al Qaeda, and she currently working on exploring the role of physiological responses to stereotyped groups in the media.

Michael Stohl

Department of Communication & Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Michael Stohl was appointed as Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies in July 2014.  He is Professor of Communication and an affiliate faculty member of the Departments of Political Science and Global and International Studies at UCSB.  He served as Department Chair of the Department of Communication from 2004-2010.  Prior to his appointment in January 2002 at UCSB, Professor Stohl was Dean of International Programs and Professor of Political Science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where he had taught since 1972.  Dr. Stohl received his B.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo (1969) and his M.A. (1970) and Ph.D. (1974) degrees in Political Science from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Anthony Richards

Reader - University of East London, School of Business and Law

Anthony Richards is a Reader in Terrorism Studies in the School of Business and Law at the University of East London, where he teaches on the MSc Critical Perspectives on Terrorism and Critical Perspectives on Counter-Terrorism modules. He has published on a wide range of terrorist related themes including radicalization and extremism, UK counter-terrorism, British public and Muslim attitudes towards both terrorism and counter-terrorism, homeland security, terrorism and sport, and terrorism in Northern Ireland. His main focus of research over the past five years has been on conceptualizing terrorism and his book on this has recently been published (September 2015) with Oxford University Press. He was the lead editor for the volume Terrorism and the Olympics (London: Routledge, 2011) and his latest article on UK counter-terrorism and extremism was published in International Affairs in March 2015. He was previously at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St Andrews, where he worked on the Economic and Social Research Council project ‘The Domestic Management of Terrorist Attacks in the UK’. He has contributed to briefings on terrorism and radicalization at the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

John Mueller

Professor of Political Science - Ohio State University

John Mueller is a political scientist at Ohio State University and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC. He is currently working on terrorism and particularly on the reactions and costly over-reactions it often inspires. His book, Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security, written in collaboration with engineer and risk analyst Mark Stewart, applies cost-benefit analysis to issues of homeland security and was published in 2011 by Oxford University Press. Their next book, to be published in late 2015 by Oxford, is Chasing Ghosts: The Policing of Terrorism

Jeff Goodwin

Professor of Sociology - New York University

Jeff Goodwin is Professor of Sociology at New York University. He earned his baccalaureate and doctorate at Harvard and has taught at NYU since 1991. His writings focus on social movements, revolutions, and violence. He is currently finishing a book entitled A Theory of Terrorism. His book No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Movements, 1945-1991 (Cambridge, 2001), won the Outstanding Book Prize of the Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA). He is the coeditor of Contention in Context (Stanford, 2012), The Social Movements Reader (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) and Passionate Politics (Chicago, 2001). Recent publications include “The Sociology of Terrorism,” in The Cambridge Handbook of Sociology, edited by Kathleen Odell Korgen (2006), “‘The Struggle Made Me a Non-Racialist’: Why There Was So Little Terrorism in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle,” Mobilization (2007), and “A Theory of Categorical Terrorism,” Social Forces (2006). He is past chair of the Comparative-Historical Section and the Collective Behavior and Social Movement Section of the ASA.

Lasse Lindekilde

Associate Professor of Political Science - Aarhus University

Lasse Lindekilde is associate professor at the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University. Lasse received his PhD from the European University Institute, Florence (2009), for a dissertation on the mobilization and claims-making of Danish Muslims in reaction to the publication of the Muhammad cartoons. His recent research has focused on violent radicalization and the design, implementation and effects of counter-radicalization policies. He has conducted field-based research on mechanisms of radicalization and the impact of counter-radicalization policies. He is currently Co-PI on the FP7-sponsered research project PRIME, focusing on lone actor extremism. As a visiting fellow at the University of California Santa Barbara (2014-2015) he has conducted experimental research on the effects of small group deliberation and interaction on the radicalization of attitudes and action preparedness.

Mia Bloom

Professor of Communication - Georgia State University

Mia Bloom is Professor of Communication at Georgia University. She conducts ethnographic field research in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia and speaks eight languages. She has authored several books and articles on terrorism and violent extremism including Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror (2005), Living Together After Ethnic Killing [with Roy Licklider] (2007) and Bombshell: Women and Terror (2011). She is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has held research or teaching appointments at Princeton, Cornell, Harvard and McGill Universities.  Under the auspices of the Minerva Research Initiative (MRI) of Department of Defense, Bloom is currently conducting research with John G. Horgan on how children become involved in terrorist organizations. Bloom and Horgan's findings with be published in a book for Cornell University Press entitled Small Arms: Children and Terror (2016). Bloom has a PhD in political science from Columbia University, a Masters in Arab Studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Bachelors from McGill University in Russian, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. Follow her on Twitter @miambloom

Laura Dugan

Professor - Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland

Laura Dugan is a Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland.  Her research examines the consequences of violence and the efficacy of violence prevention/intervention policy and practice.  She also designs methodological strategies to overcome data limitations inherent in the social sciences.  Dr. Dugan is a co-principal investigator for the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) and the Government Actions in Terrorist Environments (GATE) dataset The GTD is the most comprehensive source of terrorist incidents, as it records all known attacks across the globe since 1970.  The GATE data record government actions related to terrorists and their constituencies for a select set of countries since 1987.  Dr. Dugan’s research has been published in top journals in criminology and sociology.  She has also published in political science and public policy journals.  She received her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University in 1999; her MA in Statistics from Carnegie Mellon University in 1998; her MA in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University in 1995; and her BFA in Applied Media Arts from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 1987.  She has published with colleagues, Putting Terrorism into Context: Lessons Learned from the World’s Most Comprehensive Terrorism Database, along with more than fifty journal articles and book chapters.  She is the Chair of the American Society of Criminology’s National Policy Committee and serves as Executive Counselor on its Board.  Her publications appear in journals such as the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Criminology, the American Sociological Review, Law and Society Review, as well as Terrorism and Political Violence, and the Journal of Peace Research.

Victor Asal

Associate Professor - State University of New York, Albany

Victor Asal is Director of the Center for Policy Research and an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the director of the Homeland Security Concentration in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Dr. Asal focuses on four main areas of research.  One area of research focuses on the choices of violence by nonstate actors – both when they choose violence but also the kinds of violence they choose to use.  His second main area of research is the causes of political discrimination by states against different groups such as sexual minorities, women and ethnic groups.  In both of these areas Dr. Asal often collects new data to test empirically questions in new ways.   In addition, Prof. Asal has done research on the impact of the use of simulations to teach about political science.  Dr. Asal has also done research on international crises and the impact of nuclear proliferation.  Asal has been involved in research projects funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, The Department of Homeland Security, The National Science Foundation, and The Office of Naval Research.  Prof. Asal teaches courses on world and comparative politics, political violence and oppression, negotiation and research design.

For further information please contact:

Dr. Richard Burchill, Director of Research and Engagement, TRENDS Research and Advisory +97126440464.


Dr. Scott Englund, Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, +18058936087.