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Terrorism as an academic subject



A footnote to the posting on "Universities. Rise and Decline": When I was a student, the most prestigious subject was classics. Book II of the Aeneid tells the story of the fall of Troy. It was really an example of terrorism, with the wooden horse taking the place of the planes which crashed into the World Trade Center. However, we would never have thought of studying contemporary terrorism; the study of the contemporary world was viewed as unscholarly, since we lacked the historical perspective to judge events soberly. Admittedly, many of the messages I receive about Latin America are lacking in sobriety.

This makes the growth of terrorism as an academic subject more remarkable. The Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia has a Center on Terrorism and Political Violence. It has just issued an excellent article "The return of Shining Path" by Alberto Bolivar, a Professor of Revolutionary War, Geopolitics, and Intelligence in Lima. The Middle East has monopolized our attention, but we must remember that Peru is a focal point for revolutionary activity in the whole Andean region, and that, as the article says, Sendero Luminoso has returned with a bang. Whether it ends with a whimper remains to be seen.

Ronald Hilton - 4/6/02


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