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Learning About Terrorism Through History

October 21, 2008 10:15 AM
Arthur Nead anead@tulane.edu

Many people might think that combating terrorism has been a crisis only since Sept. 11, 2001, but terrorism and political violence prevailed in the 19th century, too. And lessons from more than a century ago may have much to teach us about the terrorism of our own time. Scholars will discuss “Terrorism and Modernity,” in a two-part lecture at Tulane University on Thursday (Oct. 23) at 6 p.m. in the Qatar Ballroom of the Lavin-Bernick Center.

Alexander Demandt, the first speaker of the evening, will discuss “Terrorism: A Timeless Topic.” A distinguished German public intellectual and historian, Demandt is a professor emeritus at the Freie Universitat–Berlin. Trained as a historian, he has written on an array of topics and historical periods throughout his career.

David Rapoport will address “The Distinctive Features of Modern Terrorism From the 1880s to the 2020s.” Rapoport is professor emeritus of political science at the University of California–Los Angeles and a founder of the university's Center for the Study of Religion. He has written extensively about terrorism and is the founding editor of the journal Terrorism and Political Violence.

The double lecture is the public keynote event of the conference — “Terrorism and Modernity: Global Perspectives on Political Violence in the 19th Century”— hosted at Tulane on Oct. 23–26. The conference includes the presentation of numerous scholarly papers on terrorism in recent history.

“The scholars taking part in the conference are specialists in the history and politics of a broad variety of geographical areas, from the United States and Western Europe to Eastern Europe, South Asia and East Asia,” says conference organizer Samuel Ramer, an associate professor of history at Tulane. “The assumption behind the conference is that a renewed study of terrorism and political violence in the 19th century may have much to teach us about the terrorism of our own time.”

The Thursday evening keynote lectures are free and open to the public.

“Both these papers address not simply 19th-century problems, but current problems as well, so we think they will be of broad interest,” says Ramer.

“Terrorism and Modernity” is co-sponsored by the Murphy Institute's Center for Ethics and Public Affairs and the Department of History, both at Tulane; the German Historical Institutes in Washington, D.C., London and Paris; and the Foundation for German Humanities Institutes Abroad.

Admission to the regular conference sessions is limited. For information, call 504-862-8604.