Many of the arguments heard since September 11 have invoked the economic underdevelopment of the Islamic world to explain why so many Muslims appear angry at the West and particularly at the United States. Economic globalization has benefited the West and harmed vast segments of the Islamic world, it is said. Some add that Islam […]
Terrorist attacks on and since September 11th have stimulated public soul-searching, military and diplomatic responses, and efforts to reform public policy. Both the attacks and responses to them have raised a host of questions about social organization, basic social institutions, how people mobilize amid crises, and how differences of culture and politics shape conflict and cooperation.
This website features an extraordinary and still-expanding collection of essays by leading social scientists from around the country and the world. These are efforts by social scientists to bring theoretical and empirical knowledge to bear on the events of Sept. 11, their precursors, and what comes after.
We have asked the authors of these essays to write against two-week deadlines. Much to their credit they have obliged, even when it is difficult to come by sure knowledge in a time of quickly changing circumstances.
These essays are intended as resources for teachers—especially college and university instructors—who want to address the unfolding events in their courses from the perspectives of the social sciences. We hope they may also serve journalists and others who seek a guide to academic knowledge related to these events. Not least they are for all of us who seek deeper understanding in troubling times.
Ten years after these essays were published, contributors to After September 11 were asked to reflect on what they wrote and to explore what had changed and what remained the same since those harrowing times, resulting in the essay collection 10 Years after September 11.
I. The challenge of 9/11 Without dwelling on the al Qaeda attacks, it was evident from the outset that the magnitude of the harm together with their exposure of present and future American vulnerability meant recourse to war by the United States. There were no credible alternatives to war, neither proceeding by way of the […]
Security, as Jean Delumeau points out, consists of reassuring and protecting the public, not disturbing and worrying them. But sometimes, in seeking to achieve the former we unintentionally produce the latter. Reassuring does not consist of conjuring up every possible danger in order to “sell” security, or of denying or minimizing genuine dangers. Rather, reassuring […]
The French philosopher Joseph de Maistre argued that insofar as human beings were constantly tempted to evil by their deepest passions, the maintenance of a peaceful social order ultimately depended on a single person, the executioner. It was much the same with nation states, according to Maistre, which “are born and die like individuals” and […]
The shock Since the assassination of President Kennedy nothing has shocked the western world, and not only the USA, more than the terror attack of 11 September. On the one hand, this is understandable. We are citizens of the same world, heirs of the same civilization, and myriad human relations, institutional contacts, common values and […]
My writing on the events of September 11th is on two registers the public event of spectacular destruction in New York and the private events made up of countless stories of grief, fear, and anticipation. I hope I can speak responsibly to both, neither trivializing the suffering of the victims of the September 11th attack […]
Traveling around the world since September 11, I have found one theme becoming louder and louder in many places outside the US, both in the global north and global south, by critics of the attacks who share our horror and do not want to see such attacks ever again anywhere in the world. The theme […]
Introduction Since the end of the Cold War, a profound restructuring of armed forces has taken place. During the Cold War period, armed forces tended to resemble each other all over the world. They were disciplined, hierarchical, and technology intensive. There were, of course, guerrilla and/or terrorist groups but they were considered marginal and their […]
To be equipped with theories can leave one naked before experience. The many and varied rationalist explanations of mental illness most decidedly do not prepare for the shock of genuine schizophrenia. Technical terms then seem merely scientistic, an irrelevance in the face of what is often best described as possession. I mention this so as […]
The events of September 11 mark the end of a period in international relations, a period known as the unipolar moment, when the US was the sole superpower, and debate raged over what kind of world order and power structure would characterise and then emerge from this moment. Contrary to many of the main interpretations, […]