An Overview of Geographical Perspectives and Approaches in Terrorism Research

Karim Bahgat, Richard M. Medina


Geographical perspectives and approaches are implemented in some areas of conflict research, but can benefit many more. While the body of geographically-oriented terrorism literature has been growing since the 2001, a geo-spatial focus has traditionally been absent from most research on terrorism research and remains largely unfamiliar to many terrorism researchers. This article explores geographical literature on terrorism and its contributions to the understanding of terrorism as an empirical phenomenon. The article suggests three particular contributions from geographical perspectives:

1) the geography of terrorism is linked to specific places and contexts throughout the world where governance failures lead to grievance and opportunity;

2) the terrorist attack cycle occurs along specific spatial trajectories that can be identified and possibly policed; and 3) terrorist attacks have significant negative impacts but are spatially limited and not as severe as presumed by much of the conventional literature. 

These aspects vary, depending on whether the violence is waged by territorial or non-territorial groups. Included in the article is a list of data sources that may serve as a partial guide for future geographic research. 

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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