The radicalisation machine: Why 'radicalisation' is a problematic concept

The term “radicalisation” is a fairly recent addition to the political vocabulary. It appeared for the first time in a policy document in 2004, when it became clear that, contrary to earlier Islam-inspired attacks, the perpetrators in the Madrid bombings were “home-grown terrorists.” Since then an impressive number of de- and counterradicalisation policies have been devised, aimed at local Muslim communities. This is remarkable, if not only because the concept itself is highly contested in research and little empirical evidence exists. In the dominant use in media and policy and in the current research state of the art, “radicalisation” is characterised by terminological impurity, a lack of comparison with other and historical forms of extremism, a onedimensional, teleological understanding of the process and an over-emphasis of individual, psychological and religious factors, obscuring the role of social environments and the responsibility of broader society and of the state. It is in this problematic context that de- and counter-radicalisation policies and programmes are launched with self-evidence. In that same context researchers as well as local organisations are forced to subscribe to project calls echoing the dominant but problematic take on “radicalisation”.

This conference has as objective to discuss the problematic nature of the concept itself as well as the effects such a superficial or misguided understanding of “radicalisation” can have on local, often stigmatised and controlled communities.

The BELSPO-funded CONRAD research team kindly invites you to this one-day seminar of reflection and discussion, involving both researchers and practitioners working on a daily basis with vulnerable groups.  


09:00 Coffee and registration
09:30 Mattias De Backer (KU Leuven): introduction to the CONRAD project
09:45 Keynote lecture: Farhad Khosrokhavar (EHESS), “Radicalisation, from the  concept to reality: types of radicalisation”
10:30 Q&A
10:45 Coffee break
11:15 Marie Figoureux (KU Leuven): "Disentangling radicalisation. Frames and  counterframes in the Belgian societal debate."
11:35 Panel “Radicalisation, a problematic concept in research, policy and practice” 
          Ellen Goovaerts (Arktos) Hassan Bousetta (Université de Liège) Anton Vereshchagin (Kaleido Ostbelgien) Ellen Huyge (VUB)
          Moderator: Nadia Fadil (KU Leuven) 

12:45 Q&A
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Keynote lecture: Martijn de Koning (Universiteit van Amsterdam), “Chasing  ghosts – race, risk and radicalisation in the Netherlands”
14:45 Q&A
15:00 Coffee break
15:30 Mattias De Backer and Tom Flachet: “The radicalisation machine”
15:50 Panel “The impact on local communities”
          Nina Henkens (Uit De Marge) Ali Moustatine (D’Broej) Fabienne Brion (UCL) Bart Van Bouchaute (Artevelde Hogeschool) Farid Nagui (CRVI)
          Moderator: Maarten De Waele (VVSG)  

17:00 Q&A
17:15 Closing words by Erik Claes (Odisee Hogeschool) 

Price: 50 euros

woensdag, 27 februari, 2019 - 09:00 tot 17:30

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