Fulton, room 107, 1pm-2pm
Elizabeth Pearson (MA Graduate War Studies, King’s College London, International Conflict Studies)
Dr Laura Morosanu (University of Sussex – Sociology)
Elizabeth Pearson – Gender and the Counter-radicalisation Strategy Prevent
This presentation explores the role of gender in the counter-radicalisation strategy Prevent. It looks at: gender in the Prevent policy itself; in radicalisation theory; and in Prevent in practice.
It begins with an assessment of the so-called ‘maternal logic’ evident in the Prevent policy, a logic that has securitised men and engaged with women as ‘peace-makers’ and allies. However, claims that this patronises women, failing to recognise their agency, and that they should instead be considered equally capable of violence are critically explored. Assertions of a new trend for women’s increased involvement in terrorism are shown to have little relevance to an
understanding of potential female violent Islamist radicalisation in the UK. Additionally, the presentation argues that the Government’s emphasis on ‘ideology’ as the key factor in radicalisation has altered perceptions of women’s vulnerability to violent extremism.
In the second section the presentation adopts a gendered consideration of contemporary (non-gendered) theories of home-grown radicalisation, to reveal the importance of hyper-masculine norms to the structures of violent Islamism. The presentation will discuss how these act as an effective constraint on women’s operational agency. It will also explore the importance of male Muslim Identity politics, combined with a mainstream ‘crisis of masculinity’, in facilitating the framing of extremist ideas to British men.
In the third section, an anti-extremism Prevent parenting class for Somali mothers and fathers provides a case study. This part of the presentation problematises calls for women’s politics to be prioritised in UK counter-terrorism, suggesting ‘gender equality’ can prove an bstacle to work within Muslim communities.
The presentation acknowledges the lack of recognition of gender in counter-terrorism theory and practice. However it recommends an understanding of ‘gender’ that incorporates masculinities, and suggests that Western feminism is not necessarily applicable to this complex area. It also advocates the inclusion of gender as a factor in violent Islamist radicalisation