Preventing Violent Extremism through community work: essentialism and manipulation
Community work has long been recognised as consisting of both emancipatory and oppressive practice. Its roots in Colonial pacification of 'the natives' are well recognised (Mayo 1975; Vasoo 2008). Yet it has equally formed a core part of anti-sexist, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist activism (Hilliard & Weise 2002; Gilchrist et al. 2003; Tett 2006). These reactionary/progressive tendencies within community work are manifestations of the dialectic within ‘community’, the contradiction between 'community as policy' and ‘community as politics’ (Shaw 2008). This dialectic is evident within contemporary debate over the UK government’s ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ (PVE) agenda.
The PVE agenda is part of the British state’s counter terrorism strategy, whose policies explicitly focus on ‘the Muslim community’, education institutions, and community work. Predictably, PVE is highly controversial and has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum. What is less predictable is the rejection of PVE funding by an increasing number of community organisations, despite their desperate lack of alternative funding. At the heart of this rejection is recognition of the dangers of ‘community as policy’.
Preventing Violent Extremism through community work - full article pdf document
Preventing What? - How the Prevent anti-terrorism programme will affect Scottish society" - SACC briefing (pdf document)
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