Terrorism and Modernity:
Global Perspectives on Nineteenth Century Political Violence
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
October 23-26, 2008
Co-sponsored by the German Historical Institutes Washington and London and the Murphy Institute of Political Economy at Tulane University
Since September 11, 2001, talk of “postmodern terrorism” has become ubiquitous. “Postmodern terrorism” presupposes “modern terrorism.” Accordingly, in the past few years, sociologists, political scientists, and specialists in contemporary history have often classified specific forms of political violence in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe and the US as “modern terrorism.” Thus far, however, they have neither been able to define convincingly the characteristics of “modern terrorism,” nor shown the concrete connections between modernity and terrorism. Moreover, the work tends to be Eurocentric: irregular political violence in Latin America, South and East Asia, as well as Africa—i.e. regions of the world not counted among the forefront of modernity—tends to excluded from discussions of terrorism.
Through this conference we seek to explore the emergence of terrorism in the nineteenth century. Taking the critique of Eurocentric history writing into account, we want to examine this form of political violence on a global scale without presupposing “modernity.” Instead, taking up recent trends in the writing of global history, we will research the connections between large-scale political and social changes in the world of the nineteenth century and the changes in the use of political violence towards what has come to be understood as “terrorism.” In this way we hope to contribute to the understanding of terrorism and the discussion of modernity, as well as to the new ways of writing world history.
Topics might examine the relationship between terrorism (and related forms of political violence) and:
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