Terrorism and Government: Between History and Criminology

Speaker: Professor Mark Finnane (Griffith University)


The decade since 9/11 has been the pre-eminent age of terrorism. Or has it?

This lecture considers the history of terrorism as an object of government and asks whether contemporary criminology has been able to describe or analyse adequately the attributes of this object. In doing so reviews briefly the longer history of terrorism in its international context before asking what kinds of measures developed as 'counter-terrorism'. In then focussing attention on the emergence of terrorism as a focus of government policy and strategy in Australia it argues that existing accounts have been dominated by a legacy of Cold War politics and ideology. They are preoccupied with the politics of policing and intelligence organisations, even though contemporary counter-terrorism instead is a concern of a wider range of government agencies. In tracing this development, consider whether the norms of criminal law that inform so many critiques of contemporary counter-terrorism are the primary standards by which we should judge its effects.