Introduction to the topic – Roland Marchal, Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem, Translated and edited by Cadenza Academic Tanslations, “What is the concept of “radicalization” for good ?” in Politique africaine Volume 149, Issue 1, January 2018, pages 5 to 20

This issue of Politique africaine was initially designed as an invitation to rethink “radicalization” beyond the paradigm of security and terrorism studies. In an area where the media and (sometimes self-proclaimed) “experts” seem to have dominated the public debate, it is the responsibility of social scientists to not only ask whether the term “radicalization” is the best descriptor of the social and political phenomena they seek to unpack, but also to examine the very genesis and usage of such a concept. Specifically, social scientists should be keen to assess to what extent the assumptions behind the “radicalization approach” concretely affect public policies, political participation, and religious and social life. This is why a number of African case studies could be useful for a comparative critical analysis of so-called “radicalization.” Here we ask the following questions: What does radicalization mean in an African context? How does religious radicalization, whether real or perceived, impact political life, social relationships, and the modes of governance within the wider context of the “global war on terror” and widespread implementation of de-radicalization projects? In what ways does research on terrorism or radicalization, as well as the range of consultancy activities on this topic, change or affect scholarly research on other subjects such as state formation, the political economy, inequality, or social change? How can we avoid “religious over-interpretation” of political phenomena without neglecting the religious justification of violence ?

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