The Development of Strategic Culture in Terrorist Organisations

My political science PhD at Monash University – The Development of Strategic Culture in Terrorist Organisations – has been finalised, certified, and archived. It is under embargo until 2023 to facilitate publishing from it. My thanks to PhD Supervisors Pete Lentini, Luke Howie, Zareh Ghazarian, Benjamin MacQueen, and Andy Butfoy. Also thanks to my PhD examiners Kumar Ramakrishna, Andrew Newman, and Brad Williams for their deep expertise and helpful commentary.

ROPE: Pre-Doctoral Research Section

I’m working on my Research Opportunity & Performance Evidence (ROPE) section for future grant applications to the Australian Research Council. Here’s my summary of my pre-doctoral research (1994-2011):

Pre-Doctoral Research: My freelance journalism with original research (1994-2004) and pre-doctoral research (1999-2011) focused on subculture analysis, understanding how global risk events affected journalists, digital culture and internet sociology, and theory-testing in journalism and disruptive innovation. As a freelance journalist I wrote for 21C, REVelation, Marketing, Desktop, Internet.au and Artbyte—including interviews with J.G. Ballard, Noam Chomsky, Jack Sarfatti, Robert Anton Wilson, and Terence McKenna. I also edited and wrote for the United States-based former subculture website Disinformation (1998-2008) for which I covered the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the 2000 and 2004 United States elections. I presented on this original research to the This Is Not Art (1999-2004) and Straight Out of Brisbane (2002) youth culture festivals.

I undertook Masters studies at Swinburne University in strategic foresight (2002-04) and at Monash University in counter-terrorism studies (2005-06) which provided research mentoring opportunities with Professor Richard Slaughter, Dr Joseph Voros, Dr Peter Hayward, Associate Professor Pete Lentini, Dr David Wright-Neville, and Mr Philip Gregory. I contributed Masters essays to several of Professor Slaughter’s projects including The Knowledge Base of Futures Studies: Professional Edition (2005) which have since been cited and re-published in book and peer reviewed CD-ROM anthologies. My 2006 MA mini-thesis ‘Fearful Asymmetries: Herman Kahn’s Nuclear Threat Models and the DPRK’s Nuclear Weapons Program’ with Dr Andrew Butfoy developed an escalation model using Kahn’s insights to understand North Korea’s nuclear missile development and testing.

Scripts of Terror

Benedict Wilkinson‘s PhD at Kings College London – now the book Scripts of Terror: The Stories That Terrorists Tell Themselves (Hurst, 2020) – addresses one of my PhD’s key research questions from a different angle (strategic choice rather than strategic subcultures): how do terrorist organisations grow, and why do they choose terrorist violence over other forms of political, religious, or social change? This book will inform my post PhD research program.

On Colin S. Gray

Last week I heard from Professor Theo Farrell on Twitter that noted defence and military strategist Professor Colin S. Gray had passed away. Gray’s stature in Anglo-American strategic thought was apparent to me when Strategic and Defence Studies Centre staff at The Australian National University spoke highly of Gray’s work on the “strategic imagination.” Chapters 1 and 3 of my forthcoming PhD thesis explore Gray’s early Hudson Institute work on strategic culture and my research management informed solution to the so-called Gray-Johnston debate. I look forward to engaging with Gray’s rich legacy of strategic thought.

Academic Research Program Update

Some updates on my academic research program:

  1. My Academia.edu profile has an updated academic CV.
  2. I’ve applied to join the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology to advance my research program project on white-collar crime.
  3. My Research Program interests now lists two specific projects and my methodological approach.
  4. My Publications page restores some Masters and other publications.
  5. I’m blogging research program interests at my blog Vega Theory.

AIPEN 11th Workshop Audio and Slides

I’m presenting at the Australian International Political Economy Network’s 11th Workshop on 6th February 2020 at the University of Sydney on political economist Branko Milanovic, Australia’s liberal meritocratic capitalism, and my PhD work on mobilisational counter-power. You can now read the talk abstract, hear the audio, and view the PowerPoint sides. Thanks to AIPEN for a travel grant to attend the 11th Workshop.

11th AIPEN Workshop Draft Programme

The draft programme is now out for the 11th Australian International Political Economy Network Workshop to be held on 6th and 7th February at the University of Sydney.

I am giving a talk on 6th February called Australia’s Liberal Meritocratic Capitalism and the Political Economy of Mobilisational Counter-Power (abstract).

AIPEN and the University of Sydney have kindly awarded me a travel stipend to attend the Workshop.

From Dissertation To Book

One of my 2020 projects is to prepare a book proposal for an interested international publisher that builds on my PhD thesis manuscript. Monash University’s Associate Professor Pete Lentini, Dr Luke Howie, and Dr Zareh Ghazarian were pivotal to providing feedback on the PhD thesis manuscript and also to explaining how academic publishing works. To prepare my proposal I’ll be using William Germano’s From Dissertation to Book (Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013).