tv History of Terrorism CSPAN February 19, 2016 11:40pm-1:38am EST
there's memory that continues, and those things that happened before the turning point continue to be relevant after the turning point. they can be useful in giving us some sort of cohesion, but we shouldn't overemphasize them. >> we'll conclude with that and just note that there are obviously multiple nuances and contexts for turning points. in 1916 is a great moment to see some of the shadings of that. thank you for coming out. thanks to the panel. and let's continue the conversation. [ applause ] supreme court justice antonin scalia passed away on february 13th. join us on saturday for live coverage of his funeral mass.
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country are. >> watch "book tv" all weekend every weekend on c-span 2. television for serious readers. this year marks the 130th annual meeting of the american historical association. these meetings include panels of historians and scholars discussing a variety of topics. up next on "american history tv," a panel of historians explore terrorism and terrorism throughout history. this program's about two hours. good morning. welcome to our panel on history of terrorism, new avenues of research. this is a roundtable.
so we're each going to speak for maybe five to ten minutes or so somewhat informally. talk about specific aspects of our research. and as the moderator and introducer, i'll be the most general in my comments. then we will have hopefully a lot of time -- i'm anticipating over an hour -- for us to talk among ourselves and most certainly to take questions and comment and feedback from you all and make this a fully experiential exercise. i'm russian and soviet historian by training, but i've been working in the field of the history of terrorism now for a
decade or more. my first book came out in 2009. that's going to be out in a second edition this coming summer. the project that brought us together is an edited volume down by routledge, the routledge history of terrorism, that came out in april or so of 2015. it's a large 32 chapter reference work that i was interested in putting together as a something that would be comprehensive and it would actually read as a cohesive book. not a collection of articles. and so during the writing of it, contributors shared their chapters with each other. there was a good bit of discussion back and forth that i helped facilitate and that the contributors themselves really got into and took off and ran
with, so i'm really happy with how it came out. this roundtable is a product of that as well. we wanted to do in person what we had sought to do within the book itself and talk to each other and engage each other in what we mean by terrorism. where some of the research is going today, certainly the conceptual problems associated with it. i will try to be a little bit provocative and maybe they will be as well to try to bring forward some questions. let me go ahead and introduce the panelists. then i'll give a few int introductory comments. the first presenter here on my left is matt jennings. he is at middle georgia state university formerly macon state college here in georgia.
got his ph.d. from the university of illinois, has been at macon state since 2007. his research interests include native american history, early american history, and the history of violence. the chapter he contributed to the routledge history of terrorism is on early american colonial and then early federal through the civil war violence and terrorism in america and the united states. he's currently studying the relationship between native american peoples at a national monument. his first book came out in 2011 "new world, a violence of culture." next in terms of the order of presentation is steven isaac
down at the far end. steven is professor of medieval history at longwood university in virginia. his fields of research are 12th century military history, islamic history, and ancient greece. publications include articles on cowardice on medieval battlefields. he has a forthcoming article on mercenaries and wolves. i'm fascinated. will they be forthcoming during this? >> i can work it in i'm sure. >> that was published. his current work he's looking at the circumstances of civilians when their towns come under siege in the 1100s. we apply the term terror and terrorism rather broadly across
the centuries and really perhaps almost even the millennia, i think, here. next is -- i guess in terms of the order of the presentation -- is richard jensen. rick is a professor of history at the louisiana scholars college at northwestern state university. trained as a modern european historian with a specialty in 19th and 20th italy. rick has broadened his research and he looks comparatively at european and transatlantic history. he has worked a lot on anarchism and terrorism. and the cambridge university pressed published his book. his first book was "liberty and order, the theory and practice
of italian public security policy in 1814 to the crisis of the 1890s." he's been the recipient of two full bright awards for research in europe as well. an article just came out in "terrorism and political violence." last chronologically is ann lairbee who is a prefer of american studies at michigan state university. she's the author of a new book which was published by oxford university press in 2015. just months ago really. i just got the copy of it.
ann's contribution to the routledge history of terrorism was a chapter on technology and terrorism. as you can see, we're all over the place in terms of our interests and the angle at which we have come to the study of terrorism. i want to keep my comments pretty brief. i just want to maybe set the framework here and throw out some questions that i know are going to be addressed in the presentations and that i'm eager to have folks respond to when we get into the discussion part of the roundtable. as many people know, there's something of a divide, sometimes
pretty impermeable, for those who work on terrorism. historically in terms of the development of terrorism studies there's not been a whole lot of overlap or not as much as there can and should have been perhaps, but it is also because of competing methodologies and agendas in the public sector and so on and so forth. i think historians and those in the humanities, their real strength is they can look at terrorism dynamically as something that has evolved and transformed over the centuries. terrorism is something that is not static and to make sense of terrorism one has to think of it in terms of a particular context of a time and place and
particular actors and particular circumstances. that leaves historians of terrorism often working in isolation from one another. when they look at terrorism and terrorist actors in their time and place convinced they found something unique, but often not really not aware of what's going on just over the hedge in other times and places as being examined by historians. social scientists on the other hand tend to be comparative, of course, and so they are keen to find the similarities and the differences over time. but unfortunately and ironically, even though they think comparatively, social scientists start from the definition and work outward to
put together that data set that allows them to draw conclusions. that definition tends to be rather presentist oriented. it tends to not be terribly flexible whereas those in humanities begin with ideas and see the definition as one that is constantly evolving. there are strengths and weaknesses that tend to make it difficult for historians and social scientists to talk to each other productively. and yet for our purposes here, but i think particularly for the routledge history of terrorism you have to have some sort of definition to talk to each other or it wouldn't be particularly productive. i'm not original in what i've come up with and what i use in my writing and research.
the consensus definition of terrorism in his recent handbook on terrorism is a great place to start. this would be it. the terrorism is symbolic violence directed against the few to influence the behavior of the many. the idea there being that terrorism is a communicative act and to understand terrorism, to appreciate it, to identify something as terrorism, we have to see three elements. three dimensions. the perpetrator, the act against the few, and the response against the many whether that is society, other actors, the state, a government of course. one question here is can a simple definition like that give historians the framework to be comparative over centuries and
indeed over millennia and across continents, or is this simply the act of a desperate historians who says he doesn't embrace definitions to pedal through the back door a definition, perhaps one that might satisfy a social scientist, but in the end may or may not be productive? that's a question. to what degree can we use a definition like this, a simple definition, one that relies on a bare number of criteria to provide a framework for a discussion? in particular, does a definition like that, symbolic violence against the few to influence the many, how might it help us explore and appreciate some of the thorniest problems that we find in the history of terrorism or terrorism studies. the first is the whole question
of state terror versus sub-state terrorism. personally, i'm convinced any definition, any framework, for making sense of terrorism that doesn't let us appreciate state terror as a kind of terrorism is one that is not very satisfying, not very productive. then we become focused on terrorist acts that lead to the death or injury of dozens, maybe even hundreds, tragic as that might be, but that leaves a side -- nazi state terror and so on and so forth and leaves us gawking at the deaths of hundreds and leaving aside states that can inflict damage in the millions. of course, i think of stalin
saying the death of one person is a tragedy and the death of a million is statistic. that's the power of terrorism. the story that individualistic terroristic acts that create that make sense to us and terrify. how can we relate state terror to sub-state terrorism or state terrorism to sub-state terrorism? then this, of course, raises another thorny question. can we talk about terrorism whether it is state or sub-state in eras and places where we cannot even identify a state in the modern sense of the word? do we simply substitute society? do we simply substitute dominant population, so on and so forth? can we speak of terrorism before the modern era and the modern
understanding of the state, let alone modern technologies and so forth. does the distinction between state terrorism and sub-state terrorism sort of melt away and we can have a single unitary coherent understanding of terrorism, or can we even productively see terrorism and discuss it as such? another distinction that we sort of hear and we certainly read about all the time is with terrorism and counterterrorism, which sounds like a nice, tidy distinction, but it covers up a real muddle, which is there are at least three different ways we can appreciate counterterrorism. one is to think of what's often termed anti-terrorism.