A landmark sociological examination of terrorism prosecution in United States courts
Rather than functioning as a final arbiter of justice, U.S. domestic courts are increasingly seen as counterterrorism tools that can incapacitate terrorists, maintain national security operations domestically, and produce certain narratives of conflict. Terrorism on Trial examines the contemporary role that these courts play in the global war on terror and their use as a weapon of war: hunting, criminalizing, and punishing entire communities in the name of national security.
Nicole Nguyen advocates for a rethinking of popular understandings of political violence and its root causes, encouraging readers to consider anti-imperial abolitionist alternatives to the criminalization, prosecution, and incarceration of individuals marked as real or perceived terrorists. She exposes how dominant academic discourses, geographical imaginations, and social processes have shaped terrorism prosecutions, as well as how our fundamental misunderstanding of terrorism has led to punitive responses that do little to address the true sources of violence, such as military interventions, colonial occupations, and tyrannical regimes. Nguyen also explores how these criminal proceedings bear on the lives of defendants and families, seeking to understand how legal processes unevenly criminalize and disempower communities of color.
A retheorization of terrorism as political violence, Terrorism on Trial invites readers to carefully consider the role of power and politics in the making of armed resistance, addressing the root causes of political violence, with a goal of building toward a less violent and more liberatory world.