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Preventing extremisms, taming dissidence: Islamic radicalism and black extremism in the U.S. making of CVE

Case studiesCountering Violent Extremism (CVE)Discussions on PolicyPrevention

This article explores the effects of the recent discursive re-articulation of terrorism into one of violent extremism. To do that, we examine the conditions for the emergence of the “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) strategy as a solution to diagnoses of failure in the war on terror. More specifically, we historicise the architecture of counterterrorism in the U.S., revealing the formation of an inside/outside division between agencies engaged with counterterrorism. The two subsequent sections dissect the main discursive pillars of the problematisation of “violent extremism” abroad and inside the U.S. and discuss their main effects on dissidence, stretching from de-legitimation of political agendas to criminalisation of specific social conducts while in protest. The second section exposes how “Islamic radicalism” is at the core of initiatives undertaken abroad through the CVE strategy, and the third section analyses the domestic appropriation of “violent extremism” towards antiracist movements in the U.S. Finally, we show that agencies working either inside or outside the U.S. operate with the same problematisation of “violent extremism” and advance similar practices. We argue that the transnational circulation of such discourse is one of the main veins through which dissidence has been managed both inside and outside the U.S.

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