HomeGlobal Prisons and Violent Extremism

Global Prisons and Violent Extremism

Prisons du monde et extrémismes violents

Critical Theories, Case Studies, Methodologies

Théories critiques, études de cas, méthodologies

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Published on Friday, March 20, 2020 by Anastasia Giardinelli

Summary

This international and multidisciplinary symposium is devoted to the analysis of what the fight against "violent extremism" does to the functioning of penitentiary institutions, in terms of practices, experiences and expertise. The aim is to understand the handling by the State, through the prison administration, of those whom it does consider as "enemies of the State" and "threats to national security". Thus, this colloquium aims i. to understand, in the media, political and institutional fields, the debates relating to the problematic relationship between prison and violent extremism, ii. to grasp the legal changes linked to terrorism and the effects of the "criminalization the enemy" on the prison institution, iii. to establish a state of the art and a critical analysis of the multiple modalities of violent extremism's management around the world, and to analyse the political, security, methodological and ethical conditions, challenges and obstacles related to the practice of social science research in this field of study.

Announcement

Presentation

This international and multidisciplinary symposium (sociology, political science, anthropology, law, history, geography) is devoted to the analysis of what the fight against "violent extremism" does to the functioning of penitentiary institutions, in terms of practices, experiences and expertise. The aim is to understand the handling by the State, through the prison administration, of those whom it does not consider and designate simply as "delinquents" or "criminals", but more fundamentally as "enemies of the State" and "threats to national security". In doing so, we propose to examine how States modify and reconfigure their security policies when their monopoly of legitimate violence is put to the test, be this by strengthening traditional prison practices or implementing exceptional regimes.

The focus is not on individual trajectories of violent radicalization as has been the case in numerous studies carried out in recent years. This project is not oriented toward the sociology of the violent individual, but toward sociologies of the prison and other institutions in charge of national defense, law and order. The notion of "radicalization", too often narrowly associated with fundamentalist Islam, will be considered within the more general framework of "violent extremism". Within a resolutely international perspective (Europe, Americas, Africa, Asia), it is necessary to question the main figures of violent extremism and the ways in which they are thought, constructed, represented, identified, evaluated and managed. Far from being confined to that of the "Jihadist Salafist", these figures include, depending on the national context, those of the "ultra-right", the "ultra-left", "sects", "anti-speciesists", "secessionists" or "anti-Balakas". Violent extremism will therefore be analysed as a category of public action, that is understood as a threat to a country's public order, national security or stability, and subject to specific penal and penitentiary measures.

Thus, this colloquium aims i. to understand, in the media, political and institutional fields, the debates, discourses and controversies relating to the problematic relationship between prison and violent extremism, ii. to grasp the legal changes linked to terrorism and the effects of the "criminalization the enemy" (feindstrafrecht, or droit penal de l’ennemi) on the prison institution, iii. to establish a state of the art and a critical analysis of the multiple modalities of violent extremism's management around the world, and to analyse the political, security, methodological and ethical conditions, challenges and obstacles related to the practice of social science research in this field of study.

Strand 1 – Prison and violent extremism: analysis of a problematization

A first line of work is a continuation of critical terrorism studies and securitization studies, seeking to describe and analyse the political, media and institutional processes by which groups or individuals have come to be labelled as "radical", "radicalized", "extremist" or "terrorist". Within this broad field of analysis, the focus will be on capturing the debates, discourses and controversies related to the problematic relationship between prison and violent extremism.

Emphasis will be placed on papers that integrate the prison dimension into their analysis of the problematization of violent extremism, particularly in relation to the treatment of public debates that question the effects and functioning of the institution: is the prison perceived as a school of radicalization and a fertile ground for proselytizing? How does the prison define the contours of the profiles to be detected as threats to prison order and national security? What are the specific or shared definitions of "radicalization" or violent extremism in prison? In what way is the prison's management of violent extremism innovative or, on the contrary, does it borrow from the management of other categories of prisoners?

The mechanisms for the designation and differentiated treatment of violent extremism, as well as the discourse about the prison outside its walls, help to produce what happens inside it. Thus, political and media discourse, or discourse emanating from various NGOs and associations in the humanitarian world, not only produces the ways of thinking of "violent extremists", but also gives impetus to the implementation (possibly followed by a subsequent abandonment) of structures dedicated to them. For example, the creation in France of specific structures for dealing with individuals suspected of "radicalization" is inseparable from the media-political debate that accompanied it. Furthermore, researchers also contribute, albeit in a more modest way, to influence institutions. Whether they are influential members of the academic field or experts nested on its margins, researchers or consultants are led to put forward their skills and expertise (psychological, theological, penological, security-related) and to recommend diagnoses, solutions and remedies in order to conquer the market – nationally and internationally – of radicalization. In this context, the aim will be to examine what research is doing to the prison management of violent extremism, and vice versa.

Strand 2 – Law, counter-terrorism and prison organization

A second strand focuses on the impact of anti-terrorist laws on the treatment of violent extremism and on the organization of prisons: emergence, strengthening and extension of a specific legal framework that reconfigures the relations between justice, police, army and intelligence. These reconfigured relations may be based on ordinary prison practices or embody the implementation of exceptional regimes. In addition, it is necessary to analyse the legislator's capacity for anticipation in strategies to identify threats and risks to national security. Upstream, the analysis of the legal framework for practices of control, surveillance, detection and management of violent extremism in prison (or in connection with the law enforcement system) is enhanced. Downstream, the legal dimensions of the control of these practices, or the possibilities of appealing against the recording, evaluation or placement in a specific regime are all avenues of study that will be favored during this symposium.

The analysis of the legal framework – anti-terrorist laws, regulations, institutional doctrine – relating to the management of prisoners considered as "extremist and violent" provides a particularly heuristic vantage point for grasping, describing and understanding the institution’s contemporary tensions between, on the one hand, the promotion of prisoner’s rights – formal recognition of rights, access to legal remedies – and, on the other hand, the implementation of penitentiary imperatives (in terms of intelligence gathering, individual observation and recording of such observations, criminological assessment of risks and dangerousness, multiplication of specific detention regimes, etc.) which place the discretionary power of the administration on new foundations and, consequently, put this movement to promote the prisoner’s rights to the test.

By what normative procedures are these specific measures instituted and organized (ministerial circulars, memos, institutional doctrine, managerial reference systems subject to permanent adaptation)? How do these arrangements fit into the traditional legal system? How are relations between the judiciary and the police, and in some cases the military? How does the creation or transformation of prisons (or prison units) dedicated to individuals accused or suspected of radicalization reflect and incorporate in their daily functioning a specific normative environment, in a context of developing hierarchical and jurisdictional controls? To what extent can the prisoner concerned refer to a legal text, whether to claim respect for it or to challenge its legality? It is also necessary to look beyond the democratic context to consider what the fight against extremism does to authoritarian systems. Is it an opportunity to reify the role of the prison as a political instrument for censoring opposition? Do we find situations of extra-legal confinement, reproducing more or less structural, if not inherited, exceptional regimes? To what extent do denunciations by NGOs, or conversely collaborations with international agencies and associations, in the context of conflicts and humanitarian emergencies, reconfigure the prison institution ? How does the humanitarian field meet the prison in the context of the fight against radicalism and to what effect (conflicts and closure, expertise and reform...)? In this perspective, we can also reflect on the hegemony of certain discourses and certain experiences set up as models of "good practices", and on their diffusion, often from Western countries to countries of the South.

Strand 3 – Violent extremism’s management in prison: empirical analyses and methodological challenges

A third strand aims to establish a critical assessment of the multiple ways in which violent extremism is managed in prisons around the world. We will give priority to papers based on ethnographic studies, whether they are anchored in the sociology of institutions, the sociology of professionals, or the sociology of individual experiences of imprisonment. The aim will be to study configurations, specific to each national penitentiary system. For example, why and how do administrations designate a privileged figure of "violent extremism"? Have prison administrations chosen to disperse or bring together prisoners suspected of (preparation of) violent acts? How does the identification and recognition of "political prisoners" with figures of violent extremism fit (or not)? To what extent are these choices constrained by a specific prison condition (overcrowding or undercrowding, individual or collective confinement, etc.)? How do professionals appropriate possible tools for detecting and assessing "risks" and "dangerousness"? What are the scholarly theories, or more generally the different representations mobilized by professionals to think about the "causes" and the "dynamics" of an "extreme radicalization trajectory"? How is this knowledge mobilized in practice in detention? Do these units reflect an institutional radicalization of already existing prison mechanisms, or do they innovate? Are these new or strengthened institutional mechanisms intended to spread to the rest of the prison population?

This third strand will also aim to identify methodological and ethical issues and obstacles relating to studies on the prison management of violent extremism. How can the response to the expectations of the public authorities in this field be reconciled with the need to open up fields and to conduct free and independent research? What about the tension between fundamental and operational research (action research, etc.)? How can the interests of the various partners and interlocutors be reconciled: prison administrations, NGOs, associations, bilateral and international partnerships? Practical issues (bringing research into line with the requirements of the various committees concerned, necessary authorisations, access or not to intramural sites, etc.) will be examined to make it possible to identify and compare national specificities in this area. It will be a question of reflecting on the research being carried out with reference to the effort required to protect sometimes sensitive data, adapt to institutional supervision, build a relationship of trust where mistrust reigns, (especially in an authoritarian context and sometimes with the status of foreign researcher) etc. Similarly, when writing, how can one protect one's sources, anonymize the actors, write what is unspeakable? How can we think about censorship and self-censorship practices, individual and collective protection issues, efforts to resist certain institutional or political demands that are potentially incompatible with the ethics of social science research? How can we compare different national situations when data collection differs significantly from one country to another?

Practical Informations

Proposals for papers (maximum 3,000 characters, in French and/or English, mentioning the strand in which the paper could take place) should be sent

before 15 May 2020

to gilles.chantraine@univ-lille.fr, david.scheer@univ-lille.fr and clement.beunas@univ-lille.fr.

The announcement of the selected papers will take place in early July 2020.

Organizing Committee

  • Gilles Chantraine (scientific director)
  • David Scheer et Clément Beunas Centre lillois d’études et de recherches sociologiques et économiques (CNRS-CLERSE), Université de Lille

Scientific Committee

  • Évelyne Baillergeau - Université d’Amsterdam (Amsterdam School for Social Science Research)
  • Jean Bérard - École normale supérieure de Paris-Saclay
  • Marc Bessin - CNRS / IRIS (Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux sociaux, Paris)
  • Mathilde Darley - CNRS / Cesdip (Centre de recherches Sociologiques sur le Droit et les Institutions Pénales, Saint- Quentin-En-Yvelines)
  • Sylvain Faye - Département de Sociologie de l’Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar
  • Alice Jaspart - CAPREV (Centre d’Aide et de Prise en charge de toute personne concernée par les Extrémismes et Radicalismes Violents – Bruxelles)
  • Andrew M. Jefferson - DIGNITY (Danish Institute Against Torture, Copenhagen)
  • Frédéric le Marcis - École normale supérieure de Lyon
  • Thomas Max Martin - DIGNITY (Danish Institute Against Torture, Copenhagen)
  • Marie Morelle - Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, UMR PRODIG /IRD, FPAE (Pôle de recherche pour l’organisation et la diffusion de l’information géographique)
  • Caroline Touraut - Laboratoire de recherche et d'innovation, Direction de l’administration pénitentiaire
  • Françoise Tulkens - Faculté de droit et de criminologie, Université catholique de Louvain, ancienne vice-présidente de la Cour Européenne des Droits de l’Homme (CEDH)

Places

  • Maison Européennes des Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société (MESHS), 2 rue des Canonniers
    Lille, France (59)

Date(s)

  • Thursday, May 14, 2020

Keywords

  • extrémismes violents, prisons, radicalisation, terrorisme, théories critiques

Contact(s)

  • David Scheer
    courriel : david [dot] scheer [at] univ-lille [dot] fr
  • Gilles Chantraine
    courriel : gilles [dot] chantraine [at] univ-lille [dot] fr
  • Clément Beunas
    courriel : clement [dot] beunas [at] univ-lille [dot] fr

Information source

  • Clément Beunas
    courriel : clement [dot] beunas [at] univ-lille [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Global Prisons and Violent Extremism », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, March 20, 2020, https://calenda.org/762591

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