Lucy Gehring

Thesis title:

BConstellations of Violence: A Counter-Visual History of U.K. Counter-Terrorism Regimes


Critical terrorism studies has, in recent years, turned its scholarly attention to the ways in which particular individuals and groups have come to be understood as extremist or terrorist. Recent work has emphasised the centrality of colonial modernity to the racialised and gendered dynamics of securitisation and exclusion, understanding these processes as a form of state violence. This project extends existing discussions, placing early modern empire at the centre of its analysis of contemporary U.K. counter-terrorism policy.

This project focuses on the Holy Office of the Inquisition in the context of Portuguese colonial expansion to Goa, India, in the early sixteenth century to interrogate early modern forms of state violence. Early modern imperial Portugal was the first unified state in Europe, a progenitor of the Transatlantic slave trade, and central in establishing a racial order which persists to this day. The Inquisition, as a primarily state institution, established a complex juridical bureaucracy in colony and metropole in order to surveil and pacify populations and subjecting those convicted to punishments including incarceration, exile and deportation, and death. The Inquisition in Goa therefore represents a foundational institution of colonial state governance and modern violence.

I am indebted to scholarship in the fields of Black Studies, slavery studies, and Black, brown, and Indigenous feminisms, that locates the sociogenesis of many forms of modern violence to early modern empire. In doing so, I show how complex historical configurations—constellations—of violence constitute U.K. counter-terrorism regimes. The central thesis of this project maintains that both the Inquisition and contemporary counter-terrorism governance act to delimit threat to the state along racial lines, by subjecting the self, space, and knowledge to forms of colonisation.

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First supervisor:

Dr Leonie Ansems de Vries


Pathway 11: Global Order, Violence, & Security Practice