The Unanticipated Contributions of Criminology to Understanding Terrorism

Richard Rosenfeld, University of Missouri - St. Louis
Brian Buchner, University of Missouri - St. Louis

American criminology was caught off-guard by the events of September 11, 2001. There was and is no "criminology of terrorism," but criminology can make distinctive contributions to the broader intellectual and policy debates that have emerged during the last year. I discuss four such contributions related to defining terrorism, situational crime prevention and the egress problem, terror and anti-terror as moral crusades, and the institutional sources of terrorism. I conclude with criminological skepticism about the effectiveness of addressing the "root causes" of terrorism, when there are good reasons to believe terrorism is rooted in modernism itself.

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Updated 05/20/2006