…In the works

Projects

The purpose of the Prosecution Project is to provide a patterned analysis and taxonomy of felony criminal cases, involving illegal political violence (i.e. terrorism), occurring in the United States, 1990-2017. Through a quantitative and qualitative analysis of cases occurring throughout the past 27 years, this study seeks to determine if correlations exist between the manner in which a defendant is charged/prosecuted (e.g. state v. federal, Hate Crime v. simply criminal, terrorism adjustment v. tradition sentencing), and other known variables such as political ideology, religion, target type, jurisdiction, date of attack, etc. This study begins from the hypothesis that such prosecutorial decisions can be predicted through examining other variables, though which are the strongest indicators is unknown. In the end, this study seeks to explore prosecutorial strategy, juridical rhetoric, and the use of specialized statutes, practices and laws such as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, Hate Crime laws, Federal Access to Clinic Entrance Act, terrorism adjustments, and those crimes in which a defendant’s actions are linked to a US Department of State-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization or those defendants who are incarcerated in Communications Management Units (CMUs). The unique contribution of this approach will be the inclusion of non-jihadist domestic terrorism cases derived from the FBI’s past and present classification, which dictate the movements, groups, networks, and tactics that constitute terrorism (e.g. Army of God, Animal Liberation Front, HUTAREE, Aryan Terror Brigade).  In practice, the study consists of the construction of a database comprised of all relevant cases in the time period. Each case is validated through a decision tree for inclusion, and subsequently coded for 45 variables (inc. ordinal, binary and value-based). All entry information is  established through a verified primary source (e.g. court sentencing memorandum), or triangulated via three secondary sources (e.g. newspaper account). This database assimilates complementary datasets already established such as those explicitly dealing with jihadist terrorism, right-wing lone wolves, etc. After the construction of the combined dataset, it will serve as the basis for a critical analysis of sentencing patterns, to help understand which factors, if any, correlate to predict juridical strategy.

 

Journal Articles

Riot-ization: Biopolitical Sovereignty and Social Control in the Trump Era. [To be published in Critical Studies in Terrorism, 2018].

  • In his account of the history of prisons and social control, Michel Foucault argued that France had moved beyond an age when the King wielded his power through force; maintaining the compliance of his subjects through violence. He stated that over time, citizens became accustomed to such methods, internalized State power, and as a result, began to self-censor. In Foucault’s thinking, the Monarch then reduced its outward brutality, selecting more modern means to encourage citizens to be fearful and remain passive. This genealogical discussion of social control remains a useful framework for understanding policing practices as they relate to biopolitical control and sovereignty. In the years following the attacks of September 11, 2001, government rhetoricians frequently labeled their enemies terrorists, extending this label to describe radical social movements who broke the law. This ‘naming and shaming’ of political dissidents represents Foucault’s Monarchical power, and should be understood as a single strategy within a wider array. In the transitional period between Presidents Obama and Trump, US actions have signaled a shift away from the self-policing promoted in the past, and a return to the public, spectacle-centric displays of State power. The prosecutions and language used to defame Black Lives Matter, anti-pipeline, and anti-fascist demonstrators as rioters, exhibits this performative State strategy, which showcases the condemned, reminding the populace of the potential for ruthless punishment, and relying on such displays of brutality to maintain social control amongst those in dissent. [Under developmement]

“Othering Terrorism: A rhetorical strategy of strategic labeling” [Forthcoming 2017] Genocide Studies and Prevention, Spring 2017. International Association of Genocide Scholars.

  • The term terrorism is as value-laden a descriptor as one will encounter in the contemporary period. Though it evokes a strong image of an Orientalist, brown body enacting brutal, theatrical violence from behind a balaclava, the term itself describes very little. The decision to label a particular act, individual or movement as terroristic is more a question of politics than means. In the post-9/11 era, state-level rhetoricians describe their ideological enemies that can be ‘othered’ as terrorists, while others are considered extremists. Thus Muslim, Arab, Asian and African advocates and practitioners of political violence are termed terrorists with near universality, while white, Christian, Westerners acting in the name of white supremacy, anti-abortion and sovereign citizen movements are left outside of that taxonomy. This essay will explore how violence is viewed positionally, and how terrorism has been utilized as a defamatory label applied asymmetrically to some proponents of political violence—those challenging state claims on violence, statehood, capital, and what are broadly understood to be ‘Western’ values. [Invited to author issue introduction, article in development]

“Days of War, Knights of Tempeh: Anarchism, Animal Liberation & A History of Social War.”  No Bosses, No Masters: Anarchist Perspectives on Animal Liberation.  Eds. Kim Socha, et. al., 2014.

  • The anarchist project, as it has been developed over the centuries, has been to expand human freedom and reduce misery, toil and coercion throughout society.  As political thought has developed since the 18th century, anarchism has sought to expand this sphere of the included subject to advocate for women, people of color, the working class, and nearly from its inception, non-human animals.  In the modern arena, anarchism and anarchist direct action movements have struck back at capital and the State with the aim of reducing animal exploitation, financially paralyzing abusers, and raising radical awareness.  This chapter seeks to explore the myriad of ways in which the anarchist revival of direct action, which followed the 1999 anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle, have engaged with this fight.  Through an examination of contemporary anarchist tendencies including the Greek insurrectionists, the international militants of the Informal Anarchist Federation, the Mexican eco-anarchist bomb tossers, the US Queer network Bash Back! and others, we will examine the inseparable link between those that oppose State power and those that seek to strike back against speciesism, ecocide and domestication.  Drawing primarily from movement communiqués, the chapter explores a discourse on the inherent linkages between the anarchist struggle, and that of animal liberation as told through the words of a clandestine, globally-dispersed network of attackers. [Seeking venue for publication]

Book Chapters

“Structural Conflict, Systemic Violence & Statehood: A Guided Reading” A History of World Peace since 1750 Anthology. Eds. Christian Philip Peterson and William M. Knoblauch, 2017.

  • The transdisciplinary field of Peace and Conflict Studies has championed the cause of equality and peace, yet often bases its analysis in unacknowledged traditions of the critical left. Intellectual traditions from Marxism to anarchism are based in an understanding of structural inequality that are pervasive and relatively unchanged since their inception in the 1850s. From these intellectual roots, a host of liberatory, democratic, and peace-centric perspectives have emerged from feminist analysis to Occupied-inspired anti-capitalist critique. While the Marxist framework is firmly rooted in a stoic structuralism, these foundational concepts are extended through the work of neo-Marxists and poststructuralists to understand the nature of power and oppression as deterritorialized, boundless, fluid, and malleable. This deconstructive, genealogical history traces Peace Studies’ understanding of the relationship between structure and violence through a variety of core areas including basic human needs, statehood, culture, ideology and the question of whether violent inequality is inherent in the State. The discussion of the red-to- black spectrum aims to move beyond issues of disciplinary taxonomy and instead reengage with broader, epistemological questions regarding violence, peace, domination, hierarchy and democratic governance. This chapter seeks to trace the history of a structural analysis embedded in peace and conflict, from the early libertarianism of Marx, up until the modern anthropologists and poststructural peace theorists. [Invited for publication, In editing]

“Leftist Political Violence: From Terrorism to Social Protest” Terrorism in America. Eds. Kevin Borgeson and Robin Valeri. Taylor and Francis, 2017.

  • Dating back to the early 18th century, the Left has utilized various manners of political violence in its pursuit of social change. Radicals of all stripes—socialist, Communist, Marxist-Leninist, anarchist, eco/animal liberationist, etc.—have waged campaigns on many fronts and for a variety of causes. This chapter traces the history of Leftist political violence occurring in the United States over the past century. This exploration begins with the rise of ‘propaganda of the deed’ and the so-called “anarchist wave of terrorism” in the 1900s, exemplified by the infamous Italian Luigi Galleani and the assassination of President William McKinley. During this period, anarchists murdered world leaders, bombed the Stock Exchange, and waged pitched battles with police and soldiers. Next we will explore the rise of international Sovietism in the 1960s, popular protest surrounding opposition to the war in Vietnam, and the corresponding emergence of armed Marxist-Leninist cadres exemplified by the Weather Underground Organization. Following the decline of the red vanguards, the discussion will focus on militant underground networks fighting for environmental and animal liberation, popularizing the notion of sabotage, monkey wrenching, and the use of arson as a political tool. This discussion will center on the Animal and Earth Liberation Front, as well as the actions lesser known groups. Finally, this chapter will examine the rise of the anti-globalization movement in the latter years surrounding the millennium, and the derailing of these tendencies following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. [Invited for publication, Submitted and under editorial review]

“Cells, Communiqués & Monikers: The Insurrectionary Networks of Anti-State Attack” Routledge Guide to Radical Politics. Eds. Ruth Kinna and Uri Gordon. Routledge, 2017.

  • Spanning over a century, the insurrectionary spirit of anarchism has been on the forefront of direct, unmediated attacks on the state and capital. Insurrectionary praxis is based on an ethic of informality, clandestinity, and temporality, and as a result its cells exist in secret only as long as deemed necessary for a particular action. Unlike social movement organizations and aboveground campaigns, the cells that populate the insurrectionary milieu are not something to ‘belong to’ but something to ‘act through’; a momentary assemblage of like-minded individuals united for a particular attack by voluntary association and through shared affinity. While the modern cell networks gained visibly in Europe around the millennium, their rapid replication has led to similarly-styled formations in dozens of countries from the Americas to Asia. This franchised replication is aided by the use of adoptable monikers—static labels used to associate an attack with others, and to ideologically tag them as insurrectionary. Oftentimes these are acronyms whose names communicate the politics of the attackers, such as the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI), Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF), International Revolutionary Front (IRF) as well as older, not explicitly insurrectionary monikers such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF). The use of moniker-linked attacks, which form into a campaign of sorts, is a distinctive feature of the insurrectionary cells. For example, in June 2013, a Greek of the Informal Anarchist Federation cell bombed a vehicle belonging to a prison director overseeing the incarceration of comrades. This attack marked ‘act one’ of the Phoenix Project, and would be followed by thirteen additional attacks, spanning eight countries out over a twelve-month period. The Phoenix Project highlights the strength of the adoptable moniker, as thorough its usage, an arson targeting an Indonesian hotel and the sabotage of Italian fuel pumps can be united into an shared, global effort, and not understood as disparate acts of lone wolves. This chapter will explore how the insurrectionary anarchist networks utilize the cell model, the communiqué, and the adoptable moniker to allow for the creation of a globally-dispersed, decentralized, open involvement movement united in its rejection of capitalism, the state, and those who would seek to control it. [Invited for publication, Submitted and under editorial review]
“Communiqués and Corpora, Concordances and Collocations: Observing Populism in Anonymous Texts.” In Unravelling Populist Discourse: A Methodological Synergy, edited by Miguel-Angel Benitez-Castro, Encarna Hidalgo Tenorio, and Francesca de Cesare. New York, NY: Routledge, 2018.
  • The analysis of text through a focus on word choice prioritizes the discursive realities that dictate an author’s decision to select one word over another. When one chooses to describe a law enforcement officer as a “pig”, “cop” or “peace officer” this demonstrates ideological directives operating beyond issues of vocabulary. Such linguistic markers serve as ideological signals to the reader of the author’s standpoint and the wider socio-political context where such discourses materialize. Furthermore, through an examination of social movement texts, one can observe rhetorical and argumentative strategies coded within lexical choice.  Through the interrogation of these intentional lexical selections (Kress, 1979, p. 49), analysts can observe these patterned uses of language, and in doing so, isolate and extract the ideological constructs that may have been initially subterranean. Beginning from the presumption that an actor’s ideology will inherently dictate her word choice, this article proposes and demonstrates a method for the analysis of discourse and ideology from texts that have no discernable author. Through the use of Critical Discourse Analysis broadly, and computational Corpus Linguistics specifically, the goal is to survey the lexical and discursive universe of digital communities engaged in political violence broadly, and in some cases, terrorism. The digital networks under examination—sometimes referred to as “ultra leftists”—have received notoriety for dispatching mail bombs to European government officials, and for the shooting of an Italian nuclear executive. These networks can be understood as a form of leftist populism—directing their messaging to the common listener, avoiding mediation by governmental elites. Following each attack, the clandestine actors contextualize and announce their actions via written communiqués distributed through popular movement support sites which constitute precisely constructed virtual world of political engagement. Based on a review of thousands of these communiqué documents, understood to represent “naturally occurring [linguistic] data” (Baker, 2010, p. 121), the intentional construction of discourse becomes eminently observable. These insurrectionary anarchists claiming responsibility for criminal acts through anonymously-authored communiqués posted in online forums represent a new form of subaltern populism; a manner of speaking for the unnamed marginalized masses yearning for a better tomorrow. In this manner, their discourse can be understood to exhibit “practices which systematically form the objects of which they speak” (Foucault as qtd. in Baker, 2010, p. 121). In this formulation, a bidirectional relationship can be shown between the language adopted by an author, and the subcultural reality which produced it (Fairclough, 1989, pp. 22–23). Through a qualitative and quantitative analysis of these communiqués, this article seeks to identify and propose a transparent and repeatable process for the exploration of discursive text, focused on externalizing the author’s wider socio-political worldview. [Accepted for publication, copy editing]
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