Fractured Lives, Splintered Knowledge: Making Criminological Sense of the January, 2015 Terrorist Attacks in Paris

Research paper by Sandra Walklate, Gabe Mythen

Indexed on: 05 Apr '16Published on: 04 Apr '16Published in: Critical Criminology


Cottee (Br J Criminol 54(6):981–1001, 2014) makes the case that criminology has much to contribute to an understanding of theistic violence. However the ‘hubris of positivism’ (Young in The criminological imagination, Polity, Cambridge, 2011) curtails the criminological imagination and this is particularly evident in the debates that permeate contemporary understandings of religious extremism and radicalisation. Using the terrorist attacks in France 2015 as a touchstone, this paper explores the current state of criminological engagement with these issues. First a synopsis of orthodox current criminological talk about religious extremism and violent crime is considered. Next a critical analysis of the events in Paris based around what is ‘known’ about them is offered in the light of this knowledge. Finally, drawing on the work of Young (2011) the implications of this analysis for criminology are considered resulting in a refinement of the biases identified by Cottee (2014).