…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-present. Through a quantitative and qualitative analysis of cases, 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. For more information, visit the project website.

 

Journal Articles

Studying Political Violence While Indicted: Against Objectivity and Detachment [To be published in Critical Studies on Terrorism, 2019].

[In conjunction with the team at Critical Studies on Terrorism, I am currently editing a Special Issue of the journal featuring the work of undergraduate students I am working with. Below is the abstract of my article]

  • Knowledge construction should seek to embrace empiricism—the deriving of knowledge from data and experience—while not confusing this with a false notion of objectivity. As a truly objective approach is not only difficult but likely impossible to establish, it obscures the burden placed upon social scientists by sociologist C. Wright Mills who advocated for the study of society in order to change it. This action-centric, emancipatory-focused approach is a hallmark of the critical turn in the investigation of political violence. Regardless of how neutral scholars and teachers may attempt to appear, what does it mean when our audience—our readers, colleagues and students—glimpse behind the curtain and begin to understand knowledge producers as three-dimensional political actors with subjectivities, positionalities and passions. Upon embarking on a multi-semester research and writing process with undergraduate students, what did it mean to begin such a relationship only hours after being released from federal custody, and how did my position vis-à-vis powerful juridical discourses shape our collaborative scholarship and the process of shared knowledge construction?

Riot-ization and Social Control in the Trump Era. [To be published in Global Society, 2019].

  • In his history of prisons, 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 self-censored. The Monarch could then reduce its outward brutality and select more modern means to encourage citizens’ fearful passivity. This genealogical discussion of social control remains a useful framework for understanding policing practices as they relate to biopolitical control and sovereignty. In the post-9/11 years, government rhetoricians frequently labeled their enemies terrorists, extending this branding to radical social movements. This “naming and shaming” of dissidents represents Foucault’s Monarchical power; 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 demonstrators as rioters, exhibits this performative State strategy, showcasing the condemned and reminding the populace of the potential for ruthless punishment relying on displays of brutality to maintain social control. [Under review]

“Othering Terrorism: A rhetorical strategy of strategic labeling” [Forthcoming 2018] Genocide Studies and Prevention, Summer 2019. 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. [Awaiting publisher copy edits]

Docile Bodies, Outlaw Bodies, and those in Between: On Rioting, Felonies and Omnipresence

  • What is social control in the modern political environment and how is it enacted upon the body, social sphere and wider movements? How have these modes of biopolitical management changed with governmental epochs, and what does this framework mean for understanding repression, selective facilitation, and the fostering of outlawed, criminalized bodies? How can Focuault’s work concerning governmentality, power/knowledge, and disciplinary power help to identify and excavate the ways in which policing is enacted as manner of body-centric social control? In order to understand the relationship between the suppression of dissent and the individual, this analysis begins from an understanding of biopolitical sovereignty—the disciplining of the body and the regulatory control of the population. This concept is a particularly individualized framework, embedding the physical body within the nation-state in order to understand (collective) social control through the framework of (individualized) bodies, and juridical, caerceral State power. Within the genealogical account provided by Michel Foucault, the sovereign must maintain biopolitical supremacy, as criminal activity—that which transgresses the totalizing authority and law of the state—is seen as an attack on the State itself. This disciplinary power should not be understood as something wielded institutionally by a sovereign King against the citizenry, but rather a fluid, amorphous collectivity of micropolitical acts which are enacted by both the ruler and the ruled to foster a docile populace. Using this framework, this analysis will explore recent felony prosecutions of demonstrators, so-called ‘anti-protest laws’, and contemporary rhetoric which seeks to reinscribe the label of extremist and terrorist upon dissenting bodies and those challenging the status quo. This discussion will be explored by focusing on governmentality and biopolitical sovereignty exemplified through police infiltration into friendship, sexual, and socio-political networks through monitoring digital social media (e.g. Facebook), physical surveillance made possible by biometrics, undercover policing and intelligence gathering, and other ‘technologies of power’ which seek to engage on the level of discourse, labeling and rhetoric. These attempts to establish disciplinary regimes of truth—’power/knowledge’—a productive process which produces terrorists and patriots, demonstrators and rioters, citizens and seditious insurgents. Through an examination of Social Network Analysis, anti-masking laws, undercover policing practices and ‘naming and shaming’ mechanisms including the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list, this chapter explores how those opposing the State and Capital are both uniquely tracked and generically subsumed into a wider milieu of panopticonal omnipresence. Strategically, it will explore the ways in which policing, counterinsurgency and intelligence-led approaches to security and social control have converged in modernity to create a body which is observed before it is identified, and criminalized before it is prosecuted. [Under Development]

Nonviolence in Violent Times: Exploring militant antifascism, eco-defense, and property destruction

  • Contemporary social movement employ a variety of tactics within their strategic maneuvers to create change. From the physical blockading of buildings, to the use of vandalism and arson, the decision for a movement to use one tactic versus another is key in understanding a group’s logic. Many notions of what constitutes nonviolence have shifted radically in the past half century and most severely in the last decade. In this session we will explore contemporary activist networks—Earth First! and the Earth and Animal Liberation Front—as well as two tactical traditions—militant antifascism (i.e. antifa) and black bloc—to discuss the changing nature of nonviolence. We will use these examples to explore the notions of violence as am means of protecting life, the strategy of escalating risk and injury, the notion of community self-defense, and critiques of private property. In the end I will argue that what may appear to be aggressive, risk-prone and even terroristic methods are in fact strategic deployments of force designed to limit coercion and challenge systems of violence. I hope to present challenging notions of solidarity and accountability for potential allies, and to discuss how we can create diverse and broad-based movements while not perpetuating the criminalization of militant resistance. [Under 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

“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. [Copy editing completed, awaiting publication]
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