What are the roots of radicalism? How can people be persuaded to leave violent extremism behind? Carla Power, a finalist for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, came to this question well before the January 6, 2021, attack in Washington, D.C., turned our country’s attention to the problem of domestic radicalization. She started by investigating a different wave of radical panic—the way populists and pundits encouraged us to see the young people who joined ISIS or other terrorist organizations as simple monsters. Power wanted to chip away at the stereotypes by focusing not on what these young people had done but why: What drew them into militancy? What visions of the world—of home, of land, of security for themselves and the people they loved—shifted their thinking toward radical beliefs? And what visions of the world might bring them back to society?
Power began her journey by talking to the mothers of young men who’d joined ISIS in the UK and Canada. From there, she traveled around the world in search of societies that are finding new and innovative ways to rehabilitate former extremists, talking to both militants and the people working to rehabilitate them.
Power, author of the new book Home, Land, Security: Deradicalization and the Journey Back from Extremism, will be in conversation with Stanford anthropologist Sharika Thiranagama. Together they will explore what the U.S might learn from countries with programs designed to help violent extremists back into the mainstream.
This event is hosted by the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, and is co-sponsored by the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), and the Center for South Asia. This event is part of a new, year-long Ethics & Political Violence series. The series of seminars and public lectures will feature philosophers, lawyers, historians, social scientists, human rights activists, soldiers and political leaders grappling with vexing moral questions raised by uses of violence in international relations and domestic politics.