State Terrorism as a Field of Study

By Riccardo Baldissone.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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If, following Callon, all science is performative, the responsibility of the researchers in the construction of theories is also an immediate responsibility in the very shaping of social reality. Hence, the rearrangement of the theoretical field is also a political act, as it bears the responsibility for a restructuring of such common reality. I will assume this responsibility by focusing on the concept of state terrorism as an interpretative category that cuts through the social, the political and the historical dimensions. Moreover, I will suggest that the concept of state terrorism could generate a specific theoretical field of studies by relating issues that are currently scattered in different times, spaces and disciplines. For this purpose, I will reject the naïve functionalism of both the supporters and the critics of the abstract state-form and I will instead consider the dyadic phrase state terrorism neither as an oxymoron nor as a pleonasm, but rather as a unifying interpretation of events that have occurred, occur and could occur in the future as the result of both extraordinary and ordinary state activities. Moreover, I will invite scholars to apply the concept of terrorism to any system of intimidation, regardless of its legal status. In particular, I will propose researchers to provide thick descriptions, in the light of the use of systematic intimidation, of both state-operated and state-sanctioned activities aiming at socially recognised tasks, from punishment to cure, from instruction to national security and defence, as performed by prison systems, health structures, educational institutions and military and police corps among others. I will contend that such thick descriptions would deal with specific cases without applying any a priori concept of state terrorism, which in turn would be given an ongoing definition by the growing network of family resemblances among thick descriptions of intimidation activities. Finally, I will express the hope that the theoretical construction of instances of state terrorism could act as a catalyst for hermeneutical as well as for political processes, and it could lead both scholars and the public to increasingly question the supposed necessity of state intimidation systems.

Keywords: State Terrorism, Performativity of Science, Family Resemblances, System of Intimidation, Prison

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.73-76. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 518.289KB).

Dr. Riccardo Baldissone

Resarcher, Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Riccardo Baldissone was born in Rome, Italy, in 1959. His formal education covers Classical Studies, Science, Philosophy, Pedagogy, including an Education degree, and a Graduate Diploma in Human Rights Education. He continued his education outside formal structure, his main focus being on Classical Greek and Modern Western Philosophy. Riccardo is currently completing a PhD at Curtin University as a recipient of an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship. His present research deals with fundamentalisms in modern thought, with a particular focus on philosophy, science, economics and law. Its aim is twofold: by exposing the family resemblances of modern fundamentalisms, to link their non-fundamentalist theoretical counterparts in a transdisciplinary framework, and to use the latter to push Human Rights discourse beyond its originary western, liberal, and individualistic perspective.

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