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Researching Radicalism: A Workshop in Theories and Methods 

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This project is supported by the Humanities Center, the Ethics Institute, and Northeastern University’s Departments of Philosophy and Religion, Sociology, and Anthropology.

Radicalism in a variety of formations is on the rise in the United States and around the world. Often, the scholars who study radicalism do so through critical media discourse or political analysis. At the same time, there is a vital field of research being shaped by anthropologists, who study radicalism by living (in person and digitally) with communities for extended periods of time to understand how and why radicalized worlds are built and sustained. This work is precarious, dangerous, and is filled with both immense possibilities for social impact and ethical dilemmas.   

This workshop draws together leading anthropologists working in and on radicalized communities to talk about how we can reshape the trajectory of, support, and expand anthropological studies of radicalized communities. Some of the issues we will cover are: How can we make fieldwork safer for researchers? How do we sustain long-term, in-person fieldwork with radicalized communities while writing about them? How can we understand the researcher in relationship to the community they study (issues of bias, reflexivity, and false consciousness)? How does online ethnography change the study of radicalism? How can we theoretically expand our notion of how radicalism is understood in the study of political authority?  

This workshop will be one of the first of its kind on this topic. We intend for this event to be the start of a networked community that we will continue to build and expand in the coming years at Northeastern University, with a specific focus on supporting and mentoring young scholars, graduate students, and early career scholars working on these pressing issues. 

While the papers presented in the workshop will be given by invited scholars, both domestic and international, we aim to make this an inclusive, generative experience for Northeastern faculty and advanced graduate students, plus faculty and advanced graduate students from universities in the Boston metro area. To facilitate their involvement as audience members, we will provide opportunities for question-and-answer sessions throughout the two-day event. 

This workshop will run from March 22 to March 23, 2024, and attendance is invite-only.

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