Call for Extended Abstracts: VOX-Pol Workshop on Critiquing the Discourse of Violent Online Radicalisation (8 – 9 March 2016, Hamburg)

The discourse of violent online radicalisation has been mainstreamed, being increasingly prevalent in both policy circles and media representations. On 8 – 9 March 2016, VOX-Pol will convene a workshop at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH) on critiquing the discourse of violent online radicalisation.

The objective of this workshop is to gain an insight into the main debates, issues, achievements and gaps into violent online political extremism and online radicalisation, but also encourage constructive dialogue on the challenges or difficulties in understanding and countering these, including ethical and political considerations.

Given the responses to the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, this workshop is particularly relevant and comes at a crucial juncture in terms of developments in EU politics and policy.

Calls for increased surveillance in tandem with an increasing policy focus on the importance of counter narratives, and other such measures proposed to counter online radicalisation have often been based on unfounded assumptions about how radicalisation actually functions online. It is therefore crucial to critically examine and deconstruct the discourses on which such decisions are based. Not only are a number of these measures advocated without a solid evidence base, but they also often entail negative ethical and legal implications, especially in regard to key democratic principles such as freedom of speech, privacy, and free movement of people.

We invite submissions from academics and members of civil society, policy and industry, as well as writers and intellectuals who have engaged with or confronted the mainstream discourse on online aspects of extremism, radicalisation, and terrorism, how they emerge, what they are, how they work and how they have and should be addressed by policy and society.

We particularly encourage the participation of scholars who are working with critical methods such as genealogical approaches, deconstruction, and critical discourse analysis.

The workshop itself will be a participatory gathering with short presentations followed by discussion and debate moderated by experts in the field from academia and beyond.

If you wish to participate, please submit an extended abstract of 300 – 500 words.  The workshop will feature invited participants from civil society, industry, policy making and academia in addition to this open call.

Submissions (policy analyses, case studies, thematic overviews, etc.) may address, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Critical approaches to increased government surveillance, intelligence gathering, and the discourse surrounding these issues;
  • Knowledge/power nexus in the digital age – social media as a knowledge base for potential extremists;
  • Normalisation of extremist views online and the “echo chamber” effect;
  • Effects of counter-radicalisation/terrorism policies on fundamental rights and freedoms;
  • Critiquing counter-narratives in violent online political extremism;
  • The securitisation of the Internet and the discourse surrounding the threat of online radicalisation.

Extended abstracts should be submitted to by Friday 15 January 2016, with ‘Critiquing Workshop’ in the subject line. Those selected for participation will be notified by the end of January.

A report will be published following the event by the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, and will include updated extended abstracts.



Travel grants are available for a limited number of accepted participants. Travel Grant application forms are available on request. Those awarded funding will need to submit original receipts, proof of travel and participation, along with boarding cards, etc., for subsequent reimbursement.

For workshop-related queries, please e-mail with ‘Critiquing Workshop’ in the subject line.


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