Higher education and counter-terrorism in the state of exception: the case of England

Chadderton, C (2018) 'Higher education and counter-terrorism in the state of exception: the case of England.' Jahrbuch für Pädagogik, 2017 (1). pp. 161-176. ISSN 0941-1461

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3726/JP2017.09

Abstract

Historically, Higher Education (HE) as a sector has often found itself in tension between supporting academic freedom, freedom of expression and speech, and fulfilling officially (state) mandated political or social aims. In this paper I explore the ‘Prevent’ strand of the British government’s counter-terrorism strategy, ‘CONTEST’, and the implications for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in England, arguing perhaps controversially, that is illustrative of a gradual shift towards sovereignty via the introduction of a permanent and all-pervading State of Exception in western democracies in response to the increased terror threat these nations are (perceived to be) experiencing. The aim of ‘Prevent’ is to identify individuals who might be becoming radicalised, and prevent them from going on to become terrorists. Drawing on the work of Judith Butler I argue that the so-called ‘war on terror’ is being used to justify new regimes of control and that the education system plays a central role in the creation of the State of Exception. Employing ‘Prevent’ in HE as an example, I investigate sovereignty as a banal, anonymous and bureaucratic norm, practice and discourse, and the State of Exception as constituted via the performativity (repetition of spoken and unspoken citations) of this norm in education. I also argue that educational policies and practices such as ‘Prevent’ are central to the creation of Muslims as non-human subject as under the State of Exception their rights are being potentially – and in some cases, actually - suspended under the pretext of public security which places them (potentially) beyond the law. The ongoing use of extreme measures are ‘the means by which the exceptional becomes established as a naturalised norm’ (Butler 2004,67).

Item Type: Article
Keywords: counter-terrorism, Higher Education, performativity, the State of Exception, 'Prevent’
Divisions: Institute for Education
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Date Deposited: 03 May 2018 14:59
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2019 16:18
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