This is the text of the announcement of the first meeting of the SIG on 12 September 2008 for the record:
The arrest of Nottingham University postgraduate student Rizwaan Sabir and a Nottingham administrator Hicham Yezza in relation to the downloading of an ‘Al Qaeda’ manual for Rizwaan’s dissertation research has highlighted the emerging and ongoing difficulties of teaching about ‘terrorism’ and political violence in the current climate.
C-Sap is establishing a working group to examine issues surrounding teaching about terrorism. This is an open invitation to the inaugural meeting of the network. The agenda is open for participants to determine how the network should function, but it is important that the meeting thinks concretely about outcomes and about the function and purpose of future meetings. Goals might include collaborative work on teaching resources, guidance on difficult issues and discussion about collective projects in this area.
In recent months the question of the relationship between teaching or research materials and the commission of ‘terrorist’ acts has become an important public issue with university researchers arrested under terrorism legislation and a large number of terrorism cases in the UK, US and Australia recently under way in which the charges relate to possession of literature including literature potentially useable in teaching.
The aim of this initiative is to explore how the subject of terrorism which is inherently sensitive and subject to contest can and should be approached. The subject is sensitive for at least four reasons:
1. The definition of terrorism or how to apply it are contested as expressed in the phrase one persons terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.
2. Recent developments in official counter terrorism have identified the ways in which terrorism is handled in education as a potential area for concern in relation to ‘radicalisation’.
3. The war on terror and official counter terror activities have put pressure on the space for independent and objective study of political violence.
4. Many of the ‘expert’ sources available through the media, policy and other arenas particularly but not exclusively from outside the academy have a questionable evidential basis.
Accordingly this initiative attempts to work through the issues associated with teaching about terrorism and will consider whether it is possible to provide guidance to teachers in school, FE and HE about reliability and about the contested nature of ‘terrorism’. A number of other initiatives in the area have already been undertaken outside the UK. These will be evaluated to see what they can tell us about the issues involved.
The working groups is being convened by David Miller of Strathclyde and Bela Arora of C-SAP and supported by the Public Interest Research Network (www.publicinterest.ac.uk). The inaugural meeting is being held on Friday 12 September at the University of Strathclyde. The meeting will take place from 2-5pm in Room 5.10 Graham Hills building 50 Richmond St, University of Strathclyde. A map is here: http://www.strath.ac.uk/maps/grahamhillsbuilding/
The meeting is free and open to all, but space is limited and in order to make catering arrangements please register if you want to attend by sending an email to ….
Reposted from the website of the Public Interest Research Network @ http://www.publicinterest.ac.uk/component/content/article/49-meetings/104-teaching-about-terrorism