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Research Seminar Constant Hijzen

On Tuesday 20 March, Constant Hijzen, Assistant Professor of Intelligence Studies at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA), gave a lecture in the Diplomacy and Global Affairs Research Seminar series of Diplomacy and Global Affairs Research, titled ‘Of ticking bombs: Western services against political violence and terrorism, 1970 – present’. In it he presented his new research project, which was funded by the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV). The goal is to write an academic comparative study on the way the security services of the United Kingdom, (West) Germany, and the Netherlands have adapted to intelligence work against political violence and terrorism since the 1970s.

During the lecture, Constant Hijzen introduced the topic of political violence and terrorism and the work of intelligence and security services in general, as well as the relationship between intelligence communities and policy makers and politicians. Thereafter he more explicitly explored the political, societal, bureaucratic, organizational, and operational problems that domestic security services faced in developing activities against these new threats. Having explored the historiography, Constant argued why such a comparative research is necessary. After his presentation, Constant asked the audience for questions and suggestions.

Europe is a blind spot

Hijzen wants to connect the concept ‘intelligence cultures’ to his research on intelligence practices in the West. “Whereas in general these organizations are established to do the same thing – gathering specific information for other branches of government – we see that in practice the institutional, operational, and political context of these activities can differ markedly”. Hijzen is going to compare the domestic security services of the Netherlands (the Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst), the United Kingdom (the Security Service or MI5), and Germany (the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz). These countries have had different historical trajectories, whilst they do not differ too much from one another: all are comparable as Western European nation states that have struggled with domestic political violence and international terrorism since the 1970s.

Questions and suggestions

The audience asked questions about how Hijzen wants to use the concept of ‘intelligence culture’, whether he wants to investigate more countries, and how he plans to delimit his project. The audience gave several suggestions on methodology and measurement.

We wish Constant a lot of success with his new research project!

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