Terrorism as a conceptual site for power struggles: problematization of terrorism in Turkey in the 1970s
(2022) European Journal of International Relations
In critical terrorism analysis, (counter-)terrorism is thought to be a discursive formation of power/knowledge comprised of some security experts from governments, the media, and academics. However, this one-sided articulation ignores the struggles in the concept of terrorism between historical narratives and counter-narratives, and it may be understood as a conceptual site where different political actors interpret it universally to strengthen or resist preexisting power relations. This article proposes that the problematization of terrorism can be studied by evaluating opposing narratives produced by political actors aiming to assert their power positions, drawing on Foucault’s analysis of problematization. From this theoretical perspective, this article examines how terrorism was problematized in relation to political violence in Turkey between 1971 and 1977, and how political actors used the concept of terrorism as a site for power struggle to gain dominant positions or weaken others, insofar as discrete ideological attitudes (communism and neo-fascism/racism, respectively) were abnormalized by universalizing them as a part of “international” terrorism. In this sense, the article contends that examining terrorism as a “universalized” site of power struggle can improve the analytical framework of critical terrorism studies by integrating the possibility of counter-narratives and, as a result, contradictions in the terrorism discourse. © The Author(s) 2022.
1970s; Critical terrorism studies; political violence; problematization; Turkey