Governing an unknowable future: the politics of Britain’s Prevent policy

Martin, Thomas (2014). Governing an unknowable future: the politics of Britain’s Prevent policy. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 7(1) pp. 62–78.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17539153.2014.881200

Abstract

This article argues that Prevent, Britain’s counter-radicalisation policy, has been an important and under-analysed site for contemporary renegotiations of threat; first, in that it seeks to act on threats existing within a radically unknowable future, and second, in terms of how it identifies those subjects seen to represent this future threat. In its ambition to tame this radical contingency, Prevent represents an extension of governmentality that acts at the level of potential, before the threat being targeted has come to exist. It does so by mediating these unknowable futures through ascriptions of identification, values and the danger it sees posed by disassociations from “Britishness” and then intervenes in the present, both pre-emptively through community cohesion and at a precautionary level through the Channel programme. What is at stake is the (re)generation and the policing of the boundaries of secured life, and ultimately, it will be argued, the possibilities of contemporary politics.

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