March 5, The Allers-Retours of Contemporary Political Violence

Contemporary political violence has been overwhelming understood through the prism of ‘terrorism’. The post-September 11, 2001 dominant use of that notion has largely empty instances of violence of their social and political context and has furthered a reductionist meta-narrative. This narrative has come to dominate international policy-making, news media, fiction and segments of academe. Central to this narrative is the representation of terroristic violence as produced in particular sites; it is given culturally, religiously and racially. Similarly, the producers of that violence are depicted in static ways (their ‘nature’ immanent and unchanging) and the direction of their violence is seen as continuously beamed at the West (and its regional allies). Contemporary political violence is more complex and more layered. Uncovering the mechanisms of the ‘terrorism’ frame, we encounter a politically-invisibilised violence produced in the Western metropolis, historically projected onto the periphery and now facing a boomerang effect.

Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou
Professor of International History, Graduate Institute, Geneva