Lecture “Finding the Terrorist” by Beatrice de Graaf at UCLA
On 18 February 2016 Beatrice de Graaf is invited to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) by the department of Dutch Studies to give the Van Tilburg Lecture at the Centre for Dutch Studies. Her lecture is titled: “Finding the terrorist. The never ending search for the radical profile”.
Since the time of Napoleon, practices for identifying and profiling the criminal individual have become increasingly important. Scientism’s conviction that “the numbers tell the tale” and that “information is power” has become paradigmatic for those who fill pivotal offices of power. One consequence of these ramped up technologies of identification and registration is that, as the methods are increasingly refined and the data available multiplies, the person disappears from sight. Let alone the terrorist. In the age of Big Data the profile and not the person has center stage. As profiling improves, the person has gone missing and the terrorist retreats from the scene. In this paper we will address the genealogy of profiling anarchists, extremists and terrorists from the 19 century until the present day. How have political violent extremist been targeted and predicted, before, during and after violent outbursts of terrorist violence? Why and how finding the terrorists is the never ending quest for the holy grail of national security?