European Political Science

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 236–243

babies and bathwaters: reflecting on the pitfalls of critical terrorism studies

  • Jeroen Gunning

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.eps.2210144

Cite this article as:
Gunning, J. Eur Polit Sci (2007) 6: 236. doi:10.1057/palgrave.eps.2210144


This paper examines some of the key challenges critical terrorism studies will have to face. Starting from the premise that a critical turn must both challenge traditional approaches to ‘terrorism’ and provide an umbrella under which traditional and critical perspectives from ‘terrorism studies’ and cognate fields can converge, the article reflects on the tensions this will introduce, ranging from how to define the boundaries of a critical field and whether to adopt the term ‘terrorism’ as a field delineator, to the need for policy-relevance and the tensions this introduces between striving to influence policy and avoiding co-optation. The paper ends with a reflection on the challenge of being sensitive to cultural and contextual differences while remaining true to one's emancipatory agenda.


critical terrorism studiescognate fieldsemancipationfundinghuman securityculture

Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeroen Gunning
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Contemporary Political Violence (CSRV), Department of International Politics, University of WalesAberystwythUK