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 […]
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.
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, […]
September 11th is more than a simple attack on a specific country. But does it knock on the gate of the new century or even the new millennium? Can it be a signal of much more significant and complicated changes at global and regional levels since much earlier than September 11th? The September 11th attack […]
Following the devastating events of September 11, 2001 it has become commonplace to hear statements to the effect that the world has become a “riskier” place. However, what do people mean by this statement? And—if we accept that the statement is true—how will it affect the way that people behave? Also, how will it affect […]
Six hundred years ago the great Arab historian, Ibn Khaldun, observed that popular religion in Muslim societies tends to oscillate between periods of strict religious observance and others of devotional laxity. An astute observer of social life, Khaldun (1958) attributed this cultural cycle to features of ecology and social organization peculiar to the Middle East. […]
1. Terrorism as a category of violence In a global war on terrorism, it is important to ask what we mean by terrorism. The usual definition of terrorism is something like “the use or threat of violence, by small groups against non-combatants of large groups, for avowed political goals.” The key to this definition is […]
Introduction Must the intellectual, or the leftist—who need not be identical—always adopt a critical position, declaring that the glass is half-empty? Must the intellectual, or the leftist, always oppose the government or the imperial hegemon? Must the intellectual, or the leftist, always take the side of the minority, the underdog, the victim—and in so doing, […]
The tragedy of September 11th 2001 demonstrated that the United States was not invulnerable. The American response—the skilful application of military power, backed by active diplomacy, leading to the rapid collapse of the Taliban regime—demonstrated that America nevertheless remains the dominant global power, militarily, economically, diplomatically. The immediate impact of the American success in Afghanistan—achieved […]
Ever since September 11, there has been a growing media interest in Islam. What is the link, many seem to ask, between Islam and terrorism? The Spectator, a British weekly, carried a lead article a few weeks ago that argued that the link was not with all of Islam, but with a very literal interpretation […]
How do we analyze the US bombing of Afghanistan? Is this bombing a ceremonial reaffirmation of power? Is it about avenging the 11th September hijackings, the subsequent destruction and damage of the WTC and the Pentagon respectively and the death of thousands of innocent people? Is it about the display and exhibition of US armaments […]