Winners of nine grants from a controversial Foreign Office-funded programme to help combat terrorism have been announced.
Last year, The Times Higher revealed that the Economic and Social Research Council and its partners had been forced to withdraw the programme "Combating Terrorism by Countering Radicalism" because of fears that it could endanger UK researchers working abroad. Critics said that academics might be linked to UK counter-terror operations.
A new programme, "New Security Challenges: 'Radicalisation' and Violence, a Critical Reassessment", was later launched. But key associations voiced continued concerns and two academics involved in redrafting the programme resigned over Foreign Office requirements for the work.
Winners include projects from the International Crisis Group, a non- governmental organisation, and from Manchester, Exeter and Edinburgh universities (see box).
One of those who resigned, John Sidel of the London School of Economics, noted an apparent absence of senior researchers or specialists in South Asian or Middle Eastern studies. He said an opportunity for deeper understanding of the Muslim world among British academics had been missed, and the NGO would have done the work regardless of the ESRC funding.
The project was highlighted in a speech by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week.
Professor Sidel said the ESRC "can now say it is promoting research that is policy-relevant, while the politicians and bureaucrats can say that they have consulted with expert opinion, but we shouldn't take such self- congratulatory claims at face value".
A spokeswoman for the ESRC said the council was confident the research would be independent and of the highest quality.
A new centre based at King's College London claims to be the first in which Arab and Israeli academic institutions openly collaborate on a project aimed at countering radicalisation.
Partners in the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence are the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy, Israel's Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya and the University of Pennsylvania.
ESRC GRANT WINNING STUDIES
- Exeter University The legacy of colonial violence and state repression in the Maghreb and its effect on north African diasporas in Europe (£224,209)
- Edinburgh University 'Radicalisation' and violence: the Russian dimension (£166,676);
- King's College London Radicalisation in north Africa (£233,871);
- King's College London Militancy and violence in west Africa (£312,648);
- Manchester University The urban environment: mirror and mediator of radicalisation (£168,048);
- SOAS Diaspora mobilisation and international security (£173,298);
- Warwick University Political violence in the new media ecology (£239,184);
- Demos (think-tank) Understanding the relationship between violent and non-violent radical Islamist mobilisation in Europe (£187,921);
- International Crisis Group (NGO) Radicalism, conflict and society in Asia (£296,000).