Online Event: UK Think-Tanks, the War on Terror and the Radicalisation Debate

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The Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) is delighted to invite you to a talk to mark the publication of UK Think-Tanks, the War on Terror and the Radicalisation Debate by Hadi Enayat – the 4th issue of our Abdou Filali-Ansary Occasional Paper Series. This paper forms the foundation for a series of forthcoming papers on Islam, the role of think-tanks and security in various European countries.

The paper maps the discursive and ideological habitus in which UK think-tanks operate in connection with the ‘war on terror’. It discusses how UK think-tanks have both shaped and been shaped by this habitus and the impact their work has had on counter-terrorism policy in the UK. It begins by discussing the concept of think-tanks and their role and input into politics. It then sketches the rise of ‘terrorism’ as both an academic object of study, from the mid-1970s onwards, and as an increasingly vital policy area for governments and the military-security establishment, especially after 9/11. The paper then focuses on UK think-tanks dividing them into three broad categories: conservative-orthodox think-tanks, establishment think-tanks and alternative-radical think-tanks. Based on this small but representative sample, it is argued that the think-tanks in the first category have been the most influential in official UK counter-terrorism strategy. These are think-tanks which have generally emphasised ideology—especially radical Islam—as the main driver of terrorism and deradicalisation programmes like PREVENT as the antidote to this problem. Think-tanks in the other two categories—which have emphasised other factors such as grievances, networks and group dynamics—have been less influential in terms of public policy although there is evidence that these factors have been taken more seriously by the UK intelligence services if not always by successive UK governments.


Hadi Enayat is an independent researcher and Visiting Lecturer at the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC). He is also a Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Centre. His main research interests are in the areas of religion and international relations, the sociology of law and secularism studies. His publications include Law State and Society in Modern Iran: Constitutionalism, Autocracy and Legal Reform 1906-1941 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) which won the biennial Mossadegh Prize in 2013, and Islam and Secularism in Post-Colonial Thought (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

Sami Zubaida is Emeritus Professor of Politics and Sociology at Birkbeck, University of London, Fellow of Birkbeck College, Professorial Research Associate of the Food Studies Centre, at SOAS. He has held visiting positions in Cairo, Istanbul, Beirut, Aix-en-Provence, Paris, Berkley CA and NYU, written and lectured widely on themes of religion, culture, law and politics in the Middle East, with particular attention to Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. His other work is on food history and culture. His publications include Islam, the People and the State: Political Ideas and Movements in the Middle East (3rd edition 2009; translated into Arabic, Hebrew, Italian and Turkish); A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (edited, with R. Tapper, 2nd edition 2000; translated into Arabic and Turkish); Law and Power in the Islamic World (2003; translated into Arabic, Danish and Turkish) and Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East (2011); Food, Politics and Society: Social Theory and the Modern Food System (with Alex Colas, Jason Edwards and Jane Levi, 2018).


7 December 2020 | 12:00 pm-1:00 pm | London

Join Online:

The event will be livestreamed on AKU-ISMC's Facebook page @akuismclondon and will be available afterwards on our YouTube channel.