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Women and Warcare: Gendered Islamophobia in Counterterrorism

IdeologiesCountering Violent Extremism (CVE)Religion

Counterterrorism continues to play a central role in international and national security strategies, including an expansion of a controversial programme known as Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). A central aspect of CVE frameworks is the integration of gendered counterterrorism programming and women into its scope and operations, which has been undertheorized or seen as less consequential compared to examining solely the racialised impacts of such programming. We argue that CVE’s incorporation of gendered approaches to counterterrorism, including its use of women’s empowerment initiatives, helps it secure traction and political legitimacy among the global community while undermining autonomous community movements. Our research documents the global reach of CVE beyond the US and its incorporation of gender, including tracing the entwinement of CVE with an important UN global initiative, Security Council Resolution 1325: Women, Peace, and Security (WPS). WPS programming draws on soft surveillance tactics that resource communities and invite intel. Alongside hard surveillance, the normalisation of soft surveillance programming allows for the institutionalisation of War on Terror ideologies in social sectors, in turn expanding the criminalisation of social justice movements wary of US militarisation both domestically and abroad.

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