Securing Africa: Post-9/11 Discourses on Terrorism

Securing Africa: Post-9/11 Discourses on Terrorism

Securing Africa: Post-9/11 Discourses on Terrorism

Securing Africa: Post-9/11 Discourses on Terrorism


This meticulously researched, forcibly argued and accessibly written collection explores the many and complex ways in which Africa has been implicated in the discourses and politics of September 11, 2001. Written by key scholars based in leading institutions in Canada, the United States, the Middle East and Africa, the volume interrogates the impact of post-9/11 politics on Africa from many disciplinary perspectives, including political science, sociology, history, anthropology, religious studies and cultural studies. The essays analyze the impact of 9/11 and the 'war on terror' on political dissent and academic freedom; the contentious vocabulary of crusades, clash of civilizations, barbarism and 'Islamofascism'; alternative genealogies of local and global terrorism; extraordinary renditions to black sites and torture; human rights and insecurities; collapsed states and the development-security merger; and anti-terrorism policies from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. This is a much-needed meditation on historical and contemporary discourses on terrorism.


We live in troubled times and, arguably, in the twenty-first century the very fate of humanity has never been so uncertain. The sources of our troubles are both local and transnational. In such a moment we cannot separate the study of politics from practice, as “intellectual labor constitutes a social practice.” Conceptual labor is a practice of constructing, reproducing, and performing a particular social imaginary. If successful, conceptual labor produces authoritative accounts of appropriate subjectivities and re/produces particular disciplinary practices, constructions, and ideals. Intellectuals are active agents in this enterprise of re/constructing a particular social imaginary and social order and, in the process simultaneously re/producing the disciplines or specific fields of enquiry as we know them. There is an historical character to intellectual labor, and one of the questions it raises for me is this: What are the roles and responsibilities of the intellectual in the production of a critical theoretical scholarship on Africa in general and Africa and terrorism specifically?

What do I mean by critical? There is a basic meaning of critical, as something that is key, fundamental, necessary and indispensable. The other meanings of this term for intellectuals and scholarship are by no means obvious. My own use of critical is indebted to Marx who argued that among the tasks we face as intellectuals is necessary engagement in a “ruthless criticism of everything existing” as well as “the self-clarification of struggles and wishes of the age.” This suggests that “we do not accept the world as we find it as being in any sense natural,” given or somehow inevitable. Central to the task of the intellectual is the problematization of the social realities in which we exist and challenging dominant mythologies

1 William I. Robinson, “What is Critical Globalization Studies? Intellectual Labor and Global Society,” in Critical Globalization Studies, eds Richard P. Appelbaum and William I. Robinson (New York: Routledge, 2003), 11.

2 Ibid., 12.

3 Karl Marx’s 1844 letter to Arnold Ruge entitled, “For a Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert Tucker (New York: WW. Norton, 1972), 7–10.

4 Robinson, “What is Critical Globalization Studies?” 13.

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