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VOL. XVII, Issue 2

Studying Terror Through my I's: Autoethnographic Insider/Outsider Reflections of an Arab-Muslim Researcher

The phenomena referred to as terrorism and political violence have become a major object of academic interest over the past two decades. While the lack of first-hand data collection has been criticised, a growing number of researchers are conducting field research and interviews with individuals involved in these phenomena. Among those, there are scholars with ethnic, cultural or religious subjectivities that place them sometimes as insiders and other times as outsiders with respect to their research subjects. The way this insider/outsider-positionality impacts the research is explored in this paper through my experience as a scholar of politico-ideological violence which is analysed using the tool of autoethnography. The findings point to the difficulties related to navigating a securitised identity in a securitised research field and to the fact that while the Arab-Muslim identity can often facilitate access to the field, on other times it can become a major obstacle. It is argued that scholarship on terrorism and political violence may benefit from increased efforts to promote reflexivity among researchers.


About ICCT

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…