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Last modified: Monday, December 13, 2010

Terrorism undergoes scholarly analysis in new book

Dec. 13, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As the United States struggles to cope with mounting fears of terrorism and the increasingly restrictive nature of preventive security measures, conventional academic analysts have been slow to focus on terrorist behavior.

In the recently published book Coping with Terrorism: Origins, Escalation, Counterstrategies, and Responses (SUNY Press, 2010), political scientists analyze various facets of terrorism from theoretical and empirical perspectives in a series of scholarly essays.

Coping with Terrorism

Co-editors are Indiana University faculty members Rafael Reuveny, professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and William R. Thompson, the Donald A. Rogers Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences. They say the book explains without judgment the causes and impacts of terrorism by relying on social science theory and methodologies.

"Most books on the issue focus on strategies and tactics for dealing with terrorism," said Reuveny. "While these issues are very important, we also think there is a need for a more dispassionate analysis of terrorism as a form of political behavior, particularly in light of the strong and uninformed views of Islam and racial profiling in general that the topic sometimes elicits in the advanced industrialized societies."

The chapters were selected from papers delivered to the annual meetings of the International Studies Association, after which they were revised, refereed by external reviewers and revised again. Thompson, ISA president, and Reuveny, program chair, assembled the volume.

"The study of terrorism should be treated like political scientists analyze war, insurgencies or riots," Thompson said. "The sooner we treat the phenomenon as part of the regular inventory of violence against the state, the sooner we are likely to make sense of what is going on."

Coping with Terrorism features global and regional analysis on the origins of terrorism, escalation and expansion of terrorism, counter strategies employed in fighting terrorism, and the broader responses to global terrorism.

"We are not so nave to think that counterterrorist policies will wait while our social science understanding catches up to the need for responding to terrorist attacks," Reuveny and Thompson write. "Our point is only that we have much to learn about what terrorism is, as well as when, where, why it might occur. Fortunately, research has been done on these topics and more is underway."

More information is available at