PO/IR 265 - Terrorism: An Introduction
Terrorism has been one of the most pressing political problems of the last half-century: almost every continent has experienced the threat of terrorism, from Europe to Asia, from Africa to America, and the incidence of terrorist attacks has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Terrorism has taken a variety of forms and accordingly several typologies, based on its origins, tools, motivations, and effects, have been developed by scholars and analysts. The course focuses on the principal issues associated with modern international terrorism. It starts with an introduction to the concept of terrorism itself. In this first part, a set of crucial and preliminary questions is addressed: what is terrorism? What motivates different types of terrorist groups? Why do terrorists resort to political violence? A wide range of case studies is analyzed, taking into consideration the similarities and the differences between “old” and “new” terrorism. The course provides a special focus on the Italian experience with terrorism during the 1970s and early 1980s, when the country witnessed a dramatic wave of political violence. One section is then devoted to counterterrorism and especially to the responses of democracies to the challenge of terrorism. Finally, the course investigates some relevant issues related to representing and remembering terrorism.