"Putting Terrorism in its Place: The Case of Breslan"
Dr. Gerard Toal, Director of Government and International Affairs Program, Virginia Tech Presents
Venue: 4 pm, April 8th 2008, Conference Room, Third Floor, John Hume Building, NUI Maynooth.
Dr. Gerard Toal (Gearóid O Tuathail) is Director of the Government and International Affairs program at Virginia Tech's national capital region campus in Old town Alexandria and a Progfessor in the School of Public and International Affairs. He grew up in the border region of the Irish Republic and studies Geography at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, thew University of Illinois and Syracuse University (PhD, 1989). He is author of Critical Geopolitics (Routledge, 1996) and a co-editor of A Companion to Political Geography (Blackwell, 2002) and The Geopolitics Reader (2nd edition, Routledge, 2006) among other works. He also serves as an associate editor of the journals Geopolitics and Eurasian Geography and Economics.
Toal’s work addresses geopolitics and the analysis of violent conflicts. Over the last few years he has sought to document how geopolitics works on the ground in conflict regions through fieldwork interviews and opinion surveys. In 2001, he received (with a former student, Dr Carl Dahlman) a National Science Foundation award to study how the population returns process envisioned by the Dayton Peace Accords worked itself out in three different Bosnian localities. He also received a grant to study how 9/11 was understood and instrumentalized in Russian geopolitical culture. He spent the summer of 2002 doing fieldwork in Bosnia and has returned numerous times since. In April 2005, he testified before Congress on the challenges facing Bosnia. He has also received a Human Social Dynamics grant from the National Science Foundation (with Dr John O’Loughlin and others) for a comparative study of the impact of war on Bosnia and the North Caucasus. A large public opinion survey associated with this project was conducted in November-December 2005 in both locations. He is currently completing, with Dahlman, a book on ethnic cleansing and the returns process tentatively entitled Bosnia Remade (Cornell University Press, 2009), and starting a book on war outcomes in the Balkans and Caucasus. Dr Toal writes occasionally for The Irish Times. His publications are available at www.toal.net.
On September 1 2004, as school children, faculty and parents celebrated the ‘ringing of the first bell’ holiday to mark the beginning of the new school year, a group of terrorists surrounded the group and forced them into the buildings of School Number One in Beslan, North Ossetia. Thus began a horrific three day hostage drama that quickly became a global terrorist event. It ended on the third day in a bloody fashion with bombs, bullets and fire. Three hundred and thirty four hostages were killed, most school children, as were twenty one security forces, emergency workers and by-standers as well as thirty one terrorists. Beslan was described by the international media as Russia’s 9/11 and became yet another citation for those speaking of a ‘global war on terror.’ This paper examines the multiple geographies that are entwined within spectacular acts of terrorism. While terrorism is never simply local, it makes a sustained argument against those who would frame Beslan as part of ‘international terrorism’ or part of the ‘global war on terror.’ This ‘anemic geography’ of terrorism is contrasted to a critical geopolitics that embeds terrorist outrages in their local and regional context without denying the significance of more transnational connections, categories and flows.
last updated: Tuesday, 18-Mar-2008 10:49:52 GMT