Conference on Radicalisation

11 June 2009
Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge

The 2009 Conference on ‘Radicalisation’ is being jointly organised by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS) and the Centre for the Study of the International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa (CIRMENA). It will take place on June 11, 2009 in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, Sidgwick Site.

The conference is linked to an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded research programme into Radicalism in North Africa at CIRMENA, although it has a much wider thematic and geographic remit. The conference is being jointly funded by the ESRC, CIS and CIRMENA.

In the current climate of political extremism and violence, much attention has been directed by policy-makers and academics towards ‘radicalisation’, as the sum of the processes by which individuals are persuaded into such courses of action. Yet, behind the assumptions that usually accompany such analytical initiatives is a conviction that those who are radicalised represent an objectively irrational aberration from the conventionally accepted norms of social and political behaviour. In addition, radicalisation is often seen, not so much as an individual ideological choice, but as a form of socio-political identification with groups opposed to those norms; an acquired or elective identity, in short. As such, for policy-makers, because of its rejection of the dominant socio-political discourse, it is very often a phenomenon akin to criminality, especially when connected to violence because this is to challenge the ‘legitimate’ monopoly of violence claimed by the state.

Conference Programme

09.30am-11.00am: Session I: Definitions

Chair – Professor Yasir Suleiman

  • Savage, S.
    • Identity conflict among young Muslims in the UK and the EU.
  • Joffé, G.
    • Antiphonal responses: social movements and networks.
  • Silvestre, S.
    • What is “radical” about Islam?

11.00-11.30: Coffee Break

11.30am-13.00pm: Session II: Causes

Chair – Professor George Joffé

  • Göl, A.
    • Ethnic Radicalisation: Kurdishness as extremism in hegemonic discourse of Turkey.
  • Goddard H.
    • A biographical approach to radicalisation: Ziauddin Sardar’s Desperately seeking Paradise and Ed Husain’s The Islamist.
  • Pargeter, A.
    • Historical patterns of Islamic radicalisation in Europe and North Africa.
  • Farmanfarmaian, R.
    • Reluctant radicals: the hearts and minds of the silent majority as reflected in Mohsin Hamid’s The reluctant fundamentalist.

13.00-14.00: Lunch

14.00 pm-15.30pm: Session III: Structures and outcomes

Chair – Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian

  • Kalawoun, N.
    • Tripoli, Lebanon: and Islamist fort or a source of terror?
  • Ashour, O.
    • Radicalisation and de-radicalisation processes in North Africa: cases in Egypt, Algeria and Libya.
  • Spencer, J.
    • “Sowing dragon’s teeth”: radicalisation in the Iraq Theatre-of-Operations.
  • Hroub, K.
    • Israeli Occupation and Western Foreign Policy in the Middle East and Radicalisation.

15.30pm-16.00pm: Coffee Break

16.00pm-17.30pm: Session IV: Case studies in extremism

Chair – Dr Alison Pargeter

  • Willis, M.
    • Radicalisation and the political process in the Maghrib
  • Baabood, A.
    • Radicalism in the Gulf
  • Day, S.
    • A Yemeni radical – Sheikh Tareq bin Nasser al-Fadhli.

Concluding Remarks Professor George Joffé