Prevent Watch

Counter-Terrorism and the Counterfactual: Producing the ‘Radicalisation’ Discourse and the UK Prevent Strategy

Counter-Terrorism and the Counterfactual’ is a journal article of interest especially to those researching the foundational assumptions of counter-extremism, especially current ‘radicalisation’ theories.

Published in The British Journal of Politics and International Relations in March 2012 and as an early piece of research on the UK’s Prevent strategy, the article was among the first to interrogate the production of the ‘radicalisation’ discourse underpinning Prevent.

Here, author Charlotte Heath-Kelly argues that “British counter-terrorism currently relies upon the invention of ‘radicalisation’ and related knowledge about transitions to ‘terrorism’ to undertake governance of communities rendered suspicious”.

However, while the deployment of ‘radicalisation’ functions “to make terrorism pre-emptively governable and knowable, it also renders Prevent unstable” by simultaneously presenting “vulnerability indicators” as both “at risk” and “risky” – that is, both vulnerable and dangerous.

The article is available in full online.

This article was cited in the People’s Review of Prevent.

Related Resources

More recent work by Charlotte Heath-Kelly for anti-counter-extremism advocacy:

Also, have a look at: 

(Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash)


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