What factors underpinned the evolution of religious terrorism

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Carmzyy
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Hi guys for a dissertation topic do you think this would be something interesting to look at and if so how would you go about it also if anyone has any interesting dissertation topics surrounding terrorism or ideas please help me out! ❤️
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alexmcq
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(Original post by Carmzyy)
Hi guys for a dissertation topic do you think this would be something interesting to look at and if so how would you go about it also if anyone has any interesting dissertation topics surrounding terrorism or ideas please help me out! ❤️
Definitely could make for an interesting dissertation topic! Make sure you end up with something that's not too broad, vague or unwieldy; you may want to focus on a specific angle.

As for specific ideas on the topic itself. You could definitely mention religious wars from antiquity all the way to the religious wars in Europe including the wars to establish the first islamic caliphates, the crusades (both in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe), the inquisitions etc. But don't dwell on this too much. Your proposed topic seems to focus on "terrorism". Although the aforementioned conflicts could possibly count as examples of religious terrorism. What we generally call religious terrorism today is quite a new phenomenon. I'd suggest really starting the brunt of your analysis with the start of the 20th century, examining the religious tensions that arose from European colonisation of the Middle East, especially the way in which distinct religious and ethnic groups were grouped together and the resentment and tension it fostered between them but also towards the colonizing powers. I'm thinking specifically of Mandatory Palestine under British rule. Although there were tensions in between Jewish and Muslim populations in the region under the Ottoman rule, it is generally regarded that these groups coexisted rather peacefully during this time. Under British rule, things became a lot more tense. There was infighting and true religious terrorism began often also tied up in matters of ethnicity and identity, especially with the rise of Zionism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries culminating in the creation of the State of Israel after the Second World War alongside a rise in Arab nationalism as well. Note the rise in extremism in Europe at the same time with Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy in particular. These strands of fascism/national-socialism (as well as Marxism, although irreligious in theory) also made their way to the Middle East allowing for a dangerous concoction of political extremism and religious tensions. I would then suggest you take a look at the state sponsorship of terrorism, particularly during the latter stages of the Cold War; think the US funding of the Taliban to counter the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan (and now the new Cold War between the Saudis who promote fundamentalist Wahhabism and Iran, following the Islamic revolution which installed the Ayatollah, who promote their own brand of Shia Islam, both known to fund terrorist organisations although they prefer to advertise the work they do on counter-terrorism. The same is true of the Gulf States). The Cold War created a perfect environment for the seeds of religious extremism to grow as non-aligned countries in the Middle East sought to craft their own identities and competing political interests allowed for certain extremist groups to prosper. Of course, the real "rise" (if one can call it that) of religious terrorism came in the 90s and early 2000s with September 11th attacks being the most widely cited example of religious terrorism and prompting the "War on Terror" which has arguably only emboldened terrorism given the negative perception with which Western intervention has been seen and the further discontent that has grown from it. You might want to talk somewhere about how religious terrorism has developed alongside the internet and globalised economy; think about the large networks of terrorist cells and the new forms of recruitment as well as the procurement of arms and other equipment.

That should give you a good idea of what you could possibly do with this topic. Definitely do mention religious terrorism outside the Middle East; the Sahara and Sahel regions in particular, but also South East Asia and even Ireland during the troubles. You may also want to stress that religious terrorism is also very much interconnected with political terrorism and conflicts over ressources; religion may not always be the driving force behind these conflicts, but rather an ad hoc justification and/or tool for recruitment. Also I would suggest taking a look at the evolution of warfare in general, particularly Fourth Generation Warfare (the most prevalent type of warfare since the 1980s in which the line between combatants and civilians has been blurred and in which total victory/capitulation is not the desired goal but rather causing maximal damage to cultural sites, infrastructure and generally terrorizing the populous and pressuring governments to give into demands; think insurgency, guerrilla warfare, and generally modern terrorism.).

Hope this helps you out. Sorry for the long text. I would also note that these topics are not completely within my area of expertise necessarily, just happens to be an area in which I am interested and that I have often found myself researching.
Last edited by alexmcq; 1 week ago
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Carmzyy
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Thankyou so much for this! So informative and helpful to start some research. Some very interesting points to look at however I am conflicted between choosing this as a topic or looking at terrorism in Britain in particular radicalisation however not sure on a narrow enough question..
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alexmcq
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(Original post by Carmzyy)
Thankyou so much for this! So informative and helpful to start some research. Some very interesting points to look at however I am conflicted between choosing this as a topic or looking at terrorism in Britain in particular radicalisation however not sure on a narrow enough question..
You're welcome! And yup terrorism in Britain (radicalisation, recruitment and what not) could also be very interesting. Completely out of my depth tho. All I could suggest on that topic is looking at the influence of the internet/social media, mosques' foreign ties maybe (I know that in France many mosques had been bankrolled by the Qataris for example), and the general disaffection of young British muslims in search of an identity; but I couldn't really give you anything more specific than that. If you choose to pursue that path, there are probably some experts that you should consider talking with. I'm thinking the Quilliam foundation founded by ex-extremist Maajid Nawaz. They deal specifically with counter-extremism and radicalisation in Britain (and elsewhere).

Happy researching!

Do tell us what you end up going for once you've picked a topic/angle and how it ends up going once you're done!
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