Marginality as a Feminist Research Method in Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism

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Colleges, School and Institutes


In place of an abstract, the Introduction:

Marginality emerged as a sociological concept in the 1930s, and was used to refer to those "living and sharing intimately in the cultural life and traditions of two distinct people" (Park 1928, p892). Therefore while it is a "condition" inferring lack of power and poverty, it is distinct from exclusion or conceptualised as “outside", as it implies a more connected relationship to centres of power (sig- nificantly: Wardwell 1952, Bock 1967). The marginalised are also considered hybridized identities, they are those “who must live in, yet are excluded from, the dominant cultural order” (Ortner 1996: 181). For example, women in academia are often positioned marginally: academia is just another organisation where no woman can forget she's in a man’s world - in other words that the main text is socially, politically and culturally constructed as male and supporting male privilege (Soloman 1985, xix). Gendered differential and hierarchical patterns of participation persist over the years and across universities and countries, with Acker and Armenti (2004, p. 23) concluding: "all the signs pointed to women having had to struggle to achieve recognition". Yet although women are under-represented in senior academic and administrative positions (Priola 2007; Wynarczyk 2010), in high-status disciplines (Bebbington, 2002), in prestigious institutions (Hearn 2001), and in re- search assessment exercises (Corbyn 2009), their presence as ‘good citizens’ in departments and emphasis on teaching keeps universities productive. Women’s ability to squeeze on to the page (but not the main text) of higher education are the stories upon which the myth of progress and meritocracy of universities are narrated into existence (Berkovitch, Waldman and Yanay 2012). Thus the margins are perilous zones, with inhabitants easily ignored, their journey’s to the centre hindered, and they are easily erased because it is an unequal power relationship between the margins and the main text/core. This frequent travelling to the core allows greater access but with no structural power within it means the margins are also radical sites of possibility: a subversive location from which to challenge and reshape the main text. As Aoki argues "probing [of the main text] does not come easily to a person flowing within the mainstream... It comes more readily to one who lives at the margins" (1983, p. 325)....


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical Methods in Terrorism Studies
EditorsPriya Dixit, Jacob L Stump
Publication statusPublished - 2015