Article

Geography of Terrorism

Daanish Mustafa and Julilan R. Shaw

in Geography

ISBN: 9780199874002
Published online February 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0066
Geography of Terrorism

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Terrorism is a contested term, with fiercely partisan debates raging about its precise meaning, the labeling of its perpetrators, and the identification of its victims. Geographers paid relatively scant attention to the phenomenon until the terror attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001. The sizeable literature that emerged in the decade following the attacks was written mostly from a critical geopolitical perspective, with sizeable contributions from the subfields of hazards, spatial analysis / geographic information systems (GIS), and cultural geography within human geography. Although much of the literature covered in this bibliography directly addresses the phenomenon of terrorism, there is also substantial literature on geographies of violence that is also of relevance. Geographical literature on terrorism has been broadly concerned with definitional/agenda-setting arguments—locating the phenomenon of terrorism in space, identifying the root causes, investigating imaginaries of terror, and packaging the presentation of terrorism. Geographers have sought to address these objectives through the scalar politics of terrorism as well as through cultural, critical geopolitical, and empirical/quantitative perspectives. In the geographical literature on terror, the unifying theme has been a concern with the effect of terrorist violence on places and spaces that are affected by it and with the spectacular nature of the violence that terrorism engenders. In fact, within geography, both implicitly and explicitly, terrorism has been understood to be spectacular violence, targeting an audience and directed toward place destruction and place alienation. Place is understood to be where human emotions, experiences, and life worlds intersect with specific locations—place is inseparable from the human experience of it. Terrorism is, accordingly, a type of spectacular violence (made more potent by the almost globalized reach of the modern media) that destroys either places of everyday existence, such as cafés, markets, and transportation networks, or monumental places holding historical, cultural, or political significance for the target audience. Which terrorist actor, from state or nonstate, targets which places, at what scale, why, and to what effect are the questions at the heart of geographical inquiry on terrorism.

Article.  7312 words. 

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography ; Human Geography

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