Public Enemy

Public Enemy

UEA Reader in International Security, Dr Lee Jarvis, has investigated how and why governments outlaw terrorist organisations and how counter-terrorism powers impact on citizenship and security.

The act of outlawing enemies has a long history, and today it is most familiar to us in the act of proscription: the power by which terrorist organisations are declared illegal by states and are effectively banished.

The judgements we make around political violence rely upon more than violence itself. The definition of a terrorist does not necessarily relate to a physical action, but typically also involves evaluations about the intention, motive, threat, and actor behind specific acts of force.

In Lee’s research with Tim Legrand of Australian National University, he has explored the language used in debates about terrorism in an attempt to answer questions such as:

  • How is the power of proscription discussed by Parliamentarians?
  • How are the identities of terrorist groups and the UK portrayed?
  • What consequences (political, social, strategic and ethical) are attached to proscription?

Proscription matters because it draws a stark dividing line between ‘us’ and ‘them’; denying certain groups the sanctuary of the state and therefore having considerable significance for individuals, communities and the experience of citizenship more widely.

Lee’s latest book with Michael Lister, ‘Anti-Terrorism, Citizenship and Security’, explores how different publics make sense of, and evaluate, anti-terrorism powers within the UK, and the implications of this for citizenship and security.

It offers the first systematic engagement with ‘everyday’ understandings of anti-terrorism policy, citizenship and security. They argue that while transformations in anti-terrorism frameworks impact on public experiences of security and citizenship, they do not do so in a uniform, homogeneous, or predictable manner.

Drawing on primary empirical research, Jarvis and Lister argue that whilst white individuals are not unconcerned about the effects of anti-terrorism powers, ethnic minority citizens believe that such powers have impacted negatively on their citizenship and security.

At the same time, public understandings and expectations of security and citizenship themselves shape how developments in anti-terrorism frameworks are discussed and evaluated. 

The Expert

Lee Jarvis

Reader in International Security
School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies

Lee’s research is situated within Critical Security Studies and focuses on the construction and impact of security discourses, especially in relation to (counter-)terrorism. His work on these themes is organised around four research strands:

  • Anti-terrorism Policy, Citizenship and Security
  • Terrorism, Time and Memory.
  • Critical Terrorism Studies and Critical Security Studies. 
  • Cyberterrorism and Cyber-security.