Joseph McQuadeMay 19, 2021
A Genealogy of Terrorism
Colonial Law and the Origins of an Idea
Today I talked to Joseph McQuade about his book A Genealogy of Terrorism: Colonial Law and the Origins of an Idea (Cambridge University Press, 2020).
Using India as a case study, Joseph McQuade demonstrates how the modern concept of terrorism was shaped by colonial emergency laws dating back into the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Beginning with the 'thugs', 'pirates', and 'fanatics' of the nineteenth century, McQuade traces the emerging and novel legal category of 'the terrorist' in early twentieth-century colonial law, ending with an examination of the first international law to target global terrorism in the 1930s. Drawing on a wide range of archival research and a detailed empirical study of evolving emergency laws in British India, he argues that the idea of terrorism emerged as a deliberate strategy by officials seeking to depoliticize the actions of anti-colonial revolutionaries, and that many of the ideas embedded in this colonial legislation continue to shape contemporary understandings of terrorism today.
Dr. Joseph McQuade is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.
Samee Siddiqui is a former journalist who is currently a PhD Candidate at the Department of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation explores discussions relating to religion, race, and empire between South Asian and Japanese figures in Tokyo from 1905 until 1945. You can find him on twitter @ssiddiqui83