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Conjuring Up the Next Attack: The Future-Orientedness of Terror and the Counterterrorist Imagination


Conjuring Up the Next Attack: The Future-Orientedness of Terror and the Counterterrorist Imagination

Abstract: 

Although terrorism is widely understood to be the politically motivated creation of fear by means of violence in a target group, the nature of that fear is seldom explained or even considered. The present article attempts to close that gap by proposing a definition of terror as the apprehension of (more) violence to come. Because every terrorist act is perceived to be part of a potential series, terror is oriented towards the future and involves the imaginary anticipation of prospective events. On the basis of this definition, I will examine the problematical role of counterterrorist discourse. As the statements of public officials and security experts in the run-up to, and during, the “War on Terror” demonstrate, the peculiar dynamic of terror is, seemingly paradoxically, reinforced by counterterrorist rhetoric. With its insistence on the escalatory nature of terrorist violence and its repeated prediction of even worse attacks, counterterrorism contributes to the evocation of terror in the sense proposed here.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Frank, Michael C. 2015. "Conjuring Up the Next Attack: The Future-Orientedness of Terror and the Counterterrorist Imagination." Critical Studies on Terrorism 8 (March): 90-109. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17539153.2015.1005935

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