GIR Seminar Series 2023 | Knowing What Not to Know About the ‘Islamic State’: Terrorism Studies and Public Secrecy | Sarah Phillips
Government & International Relations Seminar Series:
Knowing What Not to Know About the ‘Islamic State’: Terrorism Studies and Public Secrecy
Presenter: Professor Sarah Phillips, University of Sydney
Hybrid: A02, Room 650 and Zoom
This talk asks for whom, and for what purpose, knowledge about violent extremist groups is produced. To do so, it explores the implications of an overlooked fact: groups like al-Qa’ida and ISIS are widely seen as relatively mundane offshoots of state power by people who live in the areas most affected by them. I use the concept of “public secrecy” (Taussig 1999) to explore why a belief that approaches the level of common sense within affected areas—that these groups enforce rather than challenge establishment power—remains so little remarked upon in the Terrorism Studies literature.
Sarah G. Phillips is an ARC Future Fellow, and the author of three books, the latest of which, When There Was No Aid: War and Peace in Somaliland (Cornell University Press, 2020), was awarded the Australian Political Science Association’s biennial Crisp Prize for the best political science monograph. Sarah’s research draws from years of in-depth fieldwork (particularly in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Kenya, Jordan, and Pakistan), and focuses on international intervention in the global South, knowledge production about conflict-affected states, authoritarianism, and non-state governance.