Disciplining Terror

Winner, Francesco Guicciardini Prize for Best Book in Historical International Relations:

“Disciplining Terror is a major achievement of historically-grounded scholarship, which will be of interest to the discipline of International Relations broadly speaking, as well as to publics beyond the academy. The book asks how terrorism came to occupy such a central place within contemporary international politics. Through a genealogical enquiry into the emergence of the ‘expert’ field of terrorism, Stampnitzky shows how different forms of political violence came to converge in a single understanding of terrorism. She convincingly shows how this confluence was not only the product of interactions between ‘expert knowledge’ and (often dramatic) events, but the ways in which the concept of terrorism was constituted by the ‘terrorism expert’. Stampnitzky combines theoretical sophistication with historical depth, employing a textual analysis that relies on broad-ranging primary and secondary sources. All in all, Disciplining Terror is a considerable accomplishment, helping us understand the emergence and ‘naturalization’ of one of the most important issues of our times.”

-Co-winner, International Political Sociology Book Award, International Studies Association

-Winner, President’s Book Award, Social Science History Association

Honorable Mention, Mirra Komarovsky Book Award, Eastern Sociological Society

Order from Cambridge University Press or Amazon.

“I do not know anyone who would have predicted some forty years ago that “terrorism studies” would emerge as a field, much less that a talented sociologist would devote her attention to producing a fascinating critique of its erratic and contentious development. Lisa Stampnitzky’s book is important not just as a disciplined examination of an undisciplined field but as a cautionary tale about the vexed relationship between experts and policy makers.” Martha Crenshaw Senior Fellow, Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Stanford University

“Lisa Stampnitzky tells a truly fascinating and revelatory story about how ‘terrorism’ came to occupy a prominent place in contemporary politics and culture. Theoretically sophisticated, meticulously researched and eloquently written, ‘Disciplining Terror’ represents a quantum leap forward in our understanding of the rise and evolution of the so-called ‘terrorism experts’.” Richard Jackson Editor of Critical Studies on Terrorism

“In a riveting account, Disciplining Terror asks how a new breed of expert formulated the nightmare concept of “terrorism.” Investigating how hijackings and hostage-taking, bombings and guerrilla warfare came to constitute a new, socially defined category, Lisa Stampnitzky traces how we ended up not in a war against particular enemies but in a war against a concept, a War on Terror. This brilliant, deeply researched analysis demystifies a fundamental obsession of our political culture.” Ann Swidler University of California, Berkeley

“In this excellent and highly readable book, Stampnitzky traces the origin of terrorism studies as a discipline … The book does an admirable job of tracing the origins of terrorism studies from the 1960s – when it was a more conventional if nascent endeavor focused mainly on insurgencies and terrorism as a tactic – to the current post-9/11 state of affairs. This excellent work employs an array of primary and secondary sources and is a corrective that should be read by U.S. foreign policy elites especially. Summing up: highly recommended.”
J. Fields, Choice


International Politics Reviews

Media coverage:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s