Start date: 1st October 2018
Swansea University is proud to offer 15 fully-funded PhD scholarships for students commencing study in October 2018 or January 2019.
The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of student excellence across a portfolio of 34 potential projects.
Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarship: France’s War on Terror: Narratives of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism since 1945 (in collaboration with the International Centre for Counter-terrorism, The Hague)
Research Excellence: The construction of counter-narratives is widely regarded as a critical aspect of contemporary counterterrorism policy. The UK’s Home Affairs Committee recently stated that “The use of the Internet to promote radicalisation and terrorism is one of the greatest threats that countries including the UK face” (HC135, para 28) and urged the importance of forging “strong counter-narratives that will address the wilful blindness and blame-games of vested interests and combat the lies and deceit that the extremists want to feed to our young people” (para 113). The construction of counter-narratives is also a key component of the work of the US State Department’s Countering Violent Extremism program, including the multi-stakeholder agenda set out at the 2015 White House Summit, and of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, established by the leading social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in June 2017.
This project examines the construction of counter-narratives to terrorism in a modern democratic state since 1945. France has experienced successive episodes of terrorism since the end of the Second World War: Algerian nationalist and European extreme right-wing terror during the 1950s and 1960s; radical leftist terror during the 1970s-1980s; and Islamic-inspired terrorism from the 1990s to the present. The project understands that terrorism is an historically-constructed term dependent on political and social context at any given moment. Using press and archival sources, it will elucidate how contemporaries understood, described, interpreted, represented, justified, and condemned acts of terrorism and the narratives produced and disseminated in response.
The project will use the investigation of historical counter-narratives to advance understandings of the effectiveness of counter-narratives to terrorism. Scholars of terrorism have recently identified problems in the formulation of State counter-narratives to terrorism in terms of both centrally-controlled narratives and the micro-narratives that vulnerable communities themselves are enlisted into devising. Both shun a more positive assertion of national unity in favour of ‘them’ versus ‘us’ dichotomies that draw on post-colonial assumptions and ignore empirical evidence about the origins of terror (Grossman 2014; Jackson 2015). The project will test the idea that positive narratives can be effective. For example, it will ask whether the centrality of French ‘Republican’ values – which are understood to be universal but are grounded in Western understandings of the primacy of democracy – to narratives of national identity that are regularly deployed in the wake of terror attacks actually work to exclude groups from an apparent national consensus. The project is timely given the recent signing into law of the provisions of the 2015 state of emergency measures and the potential contraventions of civil liberties they entailed.
The student will benefit from an interdisciplinary supervisory team, which spans the disciplines of law, criminology, history and terrorism studies:
Dr Chris Millington (Swansea): British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow (2010-12); participant at the Welsh Crucible (2015); director of the Conflict, Reconstruction and Memory (CRAM) research group within COAH.Prof Stuart Macdonald (Swansea): Lead organiser of 2017 International Terrorism and Social Media Conference and 2016 NATO Advanced Research Workshop on terrorists’ use of the Internet; guest lecturer at NATO’s Centre of Excellence on Defence Against Terrorism; holder of a Fulbright Cyber Award for 2016/17; and, member of EUROPOL’s Advisory Group on Online Terrorist Propaganda.
Professor Macdonald has supervised four students from enrolment to completion. He received the “Outstanding Research Supervision” Award at the University’s 2016 Research and Innovation Awards.
Training Excellence: The student will join an active, interdisciplinary community of terrorism researchers at Swansea University. This will be combined with the opportunity to participate in, and contribute to, the activities of the International Centre for Counter Terrorism (ICCT), The Hague. The ICCT is one of the world’s leading terrorism research centres and its involvement in this project will provide an important pathway to impact for the work of the successful applicant.
The successful applicant will also have access to our Postgraduate Research Student Training programmes.
Applicants should have (or expect to obtain) a first class honours degree (or equivalent) and/or a distinction at master's level in law, criminology, history, or other cognate discipline.
The successful candidate will need to be able to speak and read French to a good level.
Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is available to UK/EU students only.
The scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus an annual stipend of £14,553 (in line with the RCUK stipend amount) for 3 years.
There will also be £1,000 per annum available for research expenses such as travel, accommodation, field trips and conference attendance.
Please visit our website for more information.