Just got this letter alerting me to the latest research funding opportunity in the land of heavy handed stupidity. I’ve included some of the info on what its about below – follow the link to see how mad it is in detail…
This astonishing new research plan by the ESRC which aims to, among many things, have researchers enter the ideological battle to prevent terrorism (but not prevent bureaucratic stupidity – see spelling mistakes such as ‘the prevent strand is concerned with tackling the radicalisation of individuals’) and to ‘help Muslims’ to ‘dispute these ideas’ (one presumes they mean ideas of terrorism, not the idea that researchers should work directly for the FCO to ‘counter’ terror). The target for these ‘short term’ research projects is exclusively the Muslim diaspora. This new call for research proposals is said to have been revised after the earlier version produced lively debate – but the profiling of Muslims as the singular source of terror indicates that the alleged lively debate was pretty ineffectual. Applications on a postcard please to – ESRC, AHRC, FCO and the usual suspects
– Kayser Soze
I’ve excerpted the main bits here – but as I was going through it more and more of the detail seemed worthy of reproduction just for the sheer audacity of this call. If anyone applies we will know which side of the ‘you are either with us or against us’ routine they have chosen – the side of really really dumb and dangerous research agendas. See especially the sections 3.2 and 9.
“New Security Challenges:’Radicalisation’ and Violence – A Critical Reassessment
Specification. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) invite research proposals for this £2.5 million initiative.
1. Introduction. Since the events of 11th September 2001, it has become common-place to argue that the world currently faces a new and qualitatively different kind of security challenge, and frequently this challenge is described in terms of processes of ‘radicalisation.’ Where previous examples of political violence by non-state actors tended to be geographically contained within one or two contiguous states, and focused on relatively clear political goals, the new networks of violence operate on a more global scale and their goals are often said to be more diffuse. Separatist groups like ETA and the IRA would be obvious examples of the earlier pattern; the attacks of ‘9/11’ in the US, the Bali bombings of 2002, the Istanbul bombings of 2003, those in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005 are all examples of the new pattern. While, historically, ‘radicalisation’ leading to violence against the state has been associated with marginal but indigenous political groups such as Baader/Meinhof and the Red Brigade, the new pattern associates it with communities which are defined ethnically and racially as much as politically and socially.Policy discourses in many Western countries frequently describe the new problems of transnational political violence at least in part in terms of processes of ‘radicalisation’ among Muslim groups in different parts of the world. ‘Radicalisation’ has become an important frame in the coverage of extremism and terrorism in many countries, in print and broadcast media, in mainstream and more specialised outlets. This initiative will focus on the real and pressing questions that the term is employed to address, while also interrogating these uses of the term ‘radicalisation’. ‘Radicalisation’ is usually taken to signify a process taking place, at different rates and with different effects, within particular Muslim communities. Beneath the media generalisations, however, lie much more complex stories of local religious, political and social circumstances. Yet one part of the appeal of ‘radicalisation’ would seem to be the ability to invoke the idea of a community which could cut across the particularities of local traditions and local political allegiances in the Muslim world, while at the same time drawing on reactions to the suffering of Muslims in the context of ostensibly very different conflicts – Chechnya, Bosnia, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir – and employing new, transnational modes of communication like the internet. Transnational migration patterns have also created substantial diaspora populations, with their own internal demographic and political dynamics, and often complex ties to earlier countries of origin. The key research challenge is to find a way to combine both local and global perspectives on the new transnational violence. Although ‘radicalisation’ and violence purportedly in the name of Islam are the core interest of this initiative, other typesof violence, such as that deriving from sectarian or separatist movements, may also be examined in order to provide a broader context (see further in section 4.1.2).This initiative seeks to generate new knowledge in a short time-frame. … [snip]
2. Aims/ObjectivesThis initiative seeks to:1. Produce an informed and critical assessment of the diverse causes of ‘radicalisation’ and transnational political violence which combines local and global perspectives;2. Critically engage with the public and media use of the term ‘radicalisation’;… [snip]3.2 Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeThe FCO wants outstanding research to inform the policy making process. The FCO’s interest in this initiative stems from the recognition that independent, high-quality research on radicalisation issues can inform UK Counter Terrorism policy overseas. As part of the Prevent strand of that policy in particular, the FCO seeks to use research to increase its knowledge and understanding of the factors associated with radicalisation in those countries and regions identified as high priority.The Prevent strand is concerned with tackling the radicalisation of individuals, both in the UK and elsewhere, which sustains the international terrorist threat.
The Government seek [sic] to do this by: • tackling disadvantage and supporting reform by addressing structural problems in the UK and overseas that may contribute to radicalisation, such as inequalities and discrimination • deterring those who facilitate terrorism and those who encourage others to become terrorists by changing the environment in which the extremists and those radicalising others can operate • engaging in the battle of ideas by challenging the ideologies that extremists believe can justify the use of violence, primarily by helping Muslims who wish to dispute these ideas to do soIn order to obtain policy-relevant research, the FCO requires research to examine issues which impact upon and cause radicalisation, including political, social, economic, cultural, and ethnic considerations, in the countries and across regions it has specified. The most policy relevant research should aim to understand trends in radicalisation, be they historical, temporal or geographical…. [snip]
The primary focus of this initiative is outside the UK. Thus, while applications which include the UK as part of a regional or comparative study will be considered, applications which feature the UK as the only country of study will not be eligible for consideration…. [snip] • Central Asia;• East/Horn of Africa;• Europe (including France, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Netherlands and Turkey); • Gulf and wider Middle East (including Israel/Palestine and Jordan); • North Africa; • South Asia; • Southeast Asia; • West Africa.The Commissioning Panel does not seek homogeneous coverage of all the areas listed, but will seek to fund those applications which make the best scientific case for studying a particular area. Proposals with a country or regional focus should address questions arising out of a critical engagement with the conventional wisdom and scholarship on topics of relevance to the initiative. These include:
• Key political, social, cultural and demographic factors that impact upon Muslim populations in the area of study • The social profile of those who may support or be attracted to violence, in terms of gender, age, class and ethnicity• Diverse forms of avowedly Islamist mobilisation, both political and non-political, violent and non-violent • The diversity of Islamic schools, organisations, political parties and social movements and the divisions between such bodies, movements and sects • Patterns of migration, identity formation, and mobilisation among Muslim diasporic communities and their impact on ‘radicalisation’ • Role of representations of Islam and representations of ‘the West’ in the media and in popular culture in encouraging ‘radicalisation’ • The theological, discursive, social, and political context of violence committed in the name of Islam • The impact of US, UK and regional government policies more broadly since 9/11 • The impact of globalisation, democratisation, and migration on Muslim societies and on the diverse beliefs, practices, identities, and institutions associated with the faithIndividual studies will not be expected to cover all these themes…. [snip]
4.2. International FellowshipsTo facilitate the working of the research projects, the call allows for the possibility of one to three month fellowships, designed to bring to the United Kingdom both researchers of international standing and new researchers of promise. It may be expected that most Fellows would be researchers from the regions of research, although in exceptional cases it may be that expertise from other regions and countries is deemed to be useful. The fellowships would be attached to the research projects, and should be sought as part of the project application. The normal expectation would be that fellows would come to the UK in the first year of the initiative. However, later visits are not precluded.4.3. Collaborative WorkshopsA number of workshops will be delivered (see section 8 ‘Reporting’ below). There will be one in the summer of 2008 and one in the summer of 2009 at which those funded will be expected to attend and present their research findings to other researchers in the initiative and stakeholders…. [snip]
6. FundingThere is a maximum of £2.5 million available for this initiative. … [snip]
9. Methodology, Risk and EthicsThe Research Councils expect all applications for funding to be prepared in accordance with the ESRC Research Ethics Framework. The topics to be investigated within this programme may pose special methodological, political and ethical challenges and the Commissioning Panel will expect proposals to address these challenges explicitly. In particular it will be looking for candid assessments of possible harm or risk, and imaginative methodological responses to these assessments. Risks need to be assessed for a wide range of potential stakeholders – research subjects, researchers themselves, other governmental and non-governmental agencies, and other social researchers working in the region. There are particular risks associated with research access in certain parts of the world, and research which might threaten the long-term viability of other researchers’ work in particular settings will not be funded…. [snip]
An earlier initiative in this area provoked a lively debate within the research community, and was withdrawn to allow the Research Councils time to reflect on the serious intellectual, methodological and political issues that had been raised. This new call is a product of that process of reflection. We thank all colleagues who contributed to that debate and reiterate the view that the Research Councils see it as part of their role to encourage academic researchers to enter into dialogue with policy makers, while acknowledging that, for this dialogue to be useful and productive for all concerned, it must be based in genuinely independent and, where appropriate, critical scholarship.”
So there it is – the latest in a series. And doesn’t this last section say it all about what that old Habermaniac called ‘knowledge and human interets’ – an admission that clearly indicates there was no discussion taken on board from the responses to the earlier version – see here – And this version seems worse, especially its ludicrous formulations under ethics and risk… Stop and admire.