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Abstract: What is it about terrorism that makes it such a challenging policy problem? Why is terrorism so intractable? Many barriers to understanding and action flow from the issue itself, not the particular political predispositions of individual policymakers or flawed organizational processes. Moreover, scholars and policymakers face similar difficulties—the academic study of terrorism and counterterrorism is often confused, contentious, and frustrating. Terrorist attacks are actually rare, yet they encourage immediate and far-reaching responses that are not easily rolled back. Most attempts fail or are foiled, so that examining only successful terrorist attacks gives an incomplete picture. The actors behind terrorism are extremely difficult to identify, since there is no standard “terrorist organization.” Governments and researchers often struggle to establish responsibility for specific attacks. Finally, evaluating the effectiveness of counterterrorism is problematic.
About the Speakers: MARTHA CRENSHAW is a senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and professor of political science by courtesy. She taught at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., from 1974 to 2007. In 2005-2006 she was a Guggenheim Fellow. Since 2005 she has been a lead investigator with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. In 2009 she was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation/Department of Defense Minerva Initiative for a project on "mapping terrorist organizations" (see mappingmilitants.stanford.edu). In 2015 she was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. She is the recipient of the International Studies Association International Security Studies Section Distinguished Scholar Award for 2016. Ghent University also awarded her the degree of Doctor honoris causa in 2016. She serves on the editorial boards of the journals International Security, Political Psychology, Security Studies, Orbis, Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, and Terrorism and Political Violence.
GARY LAFREE is professor of criminology and criminal justice and director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. Dr. LaFree has served as president of the American Society of Criminology (ASC) and was named a fellow of the ASC in 2006. He is a member of the US Attorney General’s Science Advisory Board and the National Academy of Science’s Crime, Law and Justice Committee. Dr. LaFree has written over 100 articles and book chapters and seven books, mostly looking at criminal and political violence. In addition to the just published Countering Terrorism with Martha Crenshaw (Brookings Press), other recent books are Putting Terrorism in Context (with Laura Dugan and Erin Miller) and Applying Criminology Theories to Terrorism: New Applications and Approaches (with Josh Freilich). He received his Ph.D. in sociology from Indiana University in 1979.
A book signing will follow. Copies of Dr. Crenshaw and Dr. LaFree's book will be available for purchase in the CISAC Central Conference Room, on the second floor of Encina Hall.