The State and terrorist Sanctuaries: A Critical Analysis

Richard Dean Wells Jackson

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The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the academic and political language and understanding of 'terrorist sanctuaries.‟ Specifically, it aims to describe and dissect its central assumptions, labels, narratives and genealogical roots, and to reflect on its political and normative consequences. The central argument is fairly simple: the discourse of 'terrorist sanctuaries‟ is deeply problematic in its current form, not least because it is vague and imprecise, selectively and politically applied, founded on a number of highly contested assumptions and narratives, and functions in part to obscure state sources of terror. Perhaps more importantly, the current 'terrorist sanctuaries‟ discourse enables powerful states to pursue a range of hegemonic projects, including system maintenance, regime change, military expansion and the consolidation of domestic state power. The methodological approach I employ in this study falls broadly under the mantle of critical discourse analysis. This approach is at once both a technique for analysing political language and specific texts, and a way of understanding the relationship between discourse and social and political practice. Discourses are related sets of ideas that are expressed in various kinds of written and spoken texts, and which employ a distinct arrangement of vocabularies, rules, symbols, labels, assumptions, narratives and forms of social action.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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