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'Rethinking terrorism' conference set for Oct. 3-5

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor
(217) 333-5491;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The ceremonies and worldwide remembrances organized in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of the terrorist acts of Sept. 11, 2001, have come and gone. But the need to study terrorism -- its roots and what fuels it -- remains as critical as ever, say organizers of a conference scheduled to take place Oct. 3-5 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"Rethinking Terrorism" is the theme of the conference, organized by the university's European Union Center and the Russian and East European Center as one of a series of collaborative area studies conferences, and co-sponsored by a number of other campus units. It is free and open to the public.

"The focus of the conference is on understanding the origins and motivations for terrorism -- the nature of terrorism as a social and political phenomenon -- as well as for exploring the possibilities and the implications of different responses," said REEC director Mark Steinberg. "In the face of important worldwide discussions of practical measures -- such as discovering and suppressing conspiracies -- as scholars we believe it is essential to examine also causes and meanings. Terrorism is significant not only as a threat to people's lives "but also as a sign of problems in the world," he said.

Because "global issues are best understood through a combination of comparative and transnational inquiry and deep local knowledge of the particular conditions and motivations in different parts of the world, we have invited speakers to focus on particular case studies rather than having the conference explore only generalizations about terrorism," Steinberg said.

Bruce Hoffman, the director of the Washington, D.C., office of the RAND Corp. and author of the book "Inside Terrorism," will open the conference with a keynote address at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 in 180 Bevier Hall, 905 S. Goodwin, Urbana. His talk is titled "Rethinking Terrorism and Counter-terrorism After 9/11."

The conference continues the following day at 9 a.m. in Room 149 of the National Soybean Research Center, 1101 W. Peabody Drive, Urbana.

Also planned in conjunction with the conference is a curriculum workshop for pre-collegiate instructors. The workshop, "Teaching About Terrorism," is designed to provide educators with in-depth information on terrorism as a global issue and to assist them in the development of lesson plans.

Conference presenters will include Illinois faculty members David Goodman, East Asian languages and cultures; Fred Gottheil, economics; Susan Jellissen and Swarna Rajagopalan, political science; and John Lynn, history. Also speaking will be Carol Cohn, political science, Wellesley College; Martha Crenshaw, government, Wesleyan University; Yvonne Haddad, Center for Christian and Muslim Understanding, Georgetown University; Jean Jackson, anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Abdi Ismail Samatar, geography, University of Minnesota; M. Nazif Shahrani, anthropology and Central Asian and Middle Eastern studies, Indiana University; Sheldon Simon, political science, Arizona State University; and Mary Jo White, former U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Manhattan.