Security Traps and Discourses of Radicalization: Examining Surveillance Practices Targeting Muslims in Canada

Monaghan, Jeffrey
December 2014
Surveillance & Society;2014, Vol. 12 Issue 4, p485
Academic Journal
Security agencies in Canada have become increasingly anxious regarding the threat of domestic radicalization. Defined loosely as "the process of moving from moderate beliefs to extremist belief" inter-agency security practices aim to categorize and surveil populations deemed at risk of radicalization in Canada, particularly young Muslims. To detail surveillance efforts against domestic radicalization, this article uses the Access to Information Act (ATM) to detail the work of Canada's inter-agency Combating Violent Extremism Working Group (CVEWG). As a network of security governance actors, the CVEWG is comprised of almost 20 departments and agencies with broad areas of expertise (intelligence, defence, policing, border security, transportation, immigration, etc.). Contributing to critical security studies and scholarship on the sociology of surveillance, this article maps the contours and activities of the CVEWG and uses the ATM to narrate the production and iteration of radicalization threats through Canadian security governance networks. Tracing the influence of other states--the U.S. and U.K., in particular-- the article highlights how surveillance practices that target radicalization are disembedded from particular contexts and, instead, framed around abstractions of menacing Islam. By way of conclusion, it casts aspersions on the expansion of counter-terrorism resources towards combating violent extremism; raising questions about the dubious categories and motives in contemporary practices of the "war on terror."


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