it or not, terrorists who commit violent acts believe they are making
the world a better place. However, while it’s common to label them as
brainwashed or psychologically disturbed, ISIS fighters, suicide
bombers and Islamic fundamentalists are not usually drawn from the
ranks of the mentally ill, as evidence shows.
So why do people become terrorists? Why is the jihad’s
bug so contagious for so many youngsters? And what role does religious
education or faith play in motivating them? Anthropologist Scott Atran
has spent much of his career interviewing terrorists of various ages,
social and geographical backgrounds, and he has come to some simple but
startling conclusions. Hear from him how ordinary people become
terrorists and what we can do about it.
reserve your place here:
Scott Atran is Director of Research in Anthropology at France’s
National Centre for Scientific Research (NCSR), as well as Research
Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of
Michigan. He is among the most innovative thinkers in the field of
terrorism and radicalisation. Scott Atran promotes theory-based field
research and consequently does fieldwork with terrorists, Islamic
fundamentalists, political leaders, as well as disaffected youth.
Atran’s work on the ideology and social evolution of transnational
terrorism (based on fieldwork with mujahedin and supporters in Europe,
the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia, and North Africa) has
challenged common assumptions.
He is co-founder of Artis International, a scientific
research group dedicated to improving understanding of violence and
conflict through on-site research, and founding fellow of the Centre
for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at the University of Oxford,
which facilitates research and training on situations of political
violence. He has worked with the UN Security Council negotiating
conflicts in the Middle East and looking at Islamic extremism, the ways
in which it functions and how to best act against it.
• Adjunct Professor Scott Atran at the Department of Psychology at the
University of Michigan
• Artis International website
• Centre for Resolution of Intractable Conflict website
• Atran’s articles in The Guardian
• L’Etat Islamique est une révolution
• Talking To The Enemy: Sacred values, violent extremism, and what it
means to be human (2011)
• In Gods We Trust: The evolutionary landscape of religion (2002)