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PERISCOPE - Occasional Analysis Brief Series

PERISCOPE -Special Analysis Brief 2021: A New Wave?

Existing, Emerging and Converging Forms of Extremism

'Periscope' is the Occasional Analysis Paper/Brief series of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation's Regional Programme Australia and the Pacific. Just like the real-world sighting instrument, Periscope is meant as a lens to broaden our insights - taking in views from different angles. This way, it seeks to bring together perspectives from Germany, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region to augment our understanding of contemporary issues and help address the pressing problems of our time. The Periscope Series covers topics from the area of foreign and security policy, cybersecurity, terrorism/counter-terrorism, energy policy, rule of law, socio-economic matters and development policy. It comprises both longer Analysis Papers– in the form of single-author (and co-authored) contributions or edited volumes with multiple authors - and shorter Analysis Briefs.

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Introducing a new agenda for inquiry

The proliferation of anti-democratic ideas and violence constitutes a new landmark in the evolving terrorism/extremism landscape. Under the guise of democratic dissent, anti-government protests are becoming a vehicle for increasing polarization and extremist activism as a prolonged ‘state of exception’ allows for the frustrations and anger of citizens to be steered around the interests of the far-right. This includes the strategic instrumentalization of conspiracy and anti-democracy narratives, made possible by the easy flow of transnational digital networks and amplified by adverse state actors. Particular concerns are that ‘ordinary citizens’ instigate and commit violent acts in the belief they are acting in the ‘defence of democracy’.1
These evolving dynamics invite us to examine existing theories and practices, raising important questions about root causes, escalation mechanisms, as well as the nature and extent of the threat emanating from them. Due to the similar challenges Germany and Australia are facing as liberal democracies, manifest in increasing linkages between protest movements, they lend themselves to a comparative perspective.


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About the Author

Katja Theodorakis


Katja Theodorakis is the Head of ASPI’s Counterterrorism program.

Before joining ASPI, she was Senior Program Coordinator for Research and Analysis (Foreign/Security Policy) at the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation’s Australia Office where she coordinated a portfolio spanning the fields of terrorism/extremism, European defence/security matters, cybersecurity and the wider strategic relations in the Indo-Pacific. This entailed engagement and strategic outreach to the national security community, with the aim of enhancing cooperation between Australia and Germany/Europe.
Katja publishes and presents at seminars, conferences and masterclasses (for representatives from DoD, security agencies, DFAT) and has appeared on national TV and radio for commentary. She has engaged in academic teaching, such as most recently as a seasonal lecturer for a course on ‘Terrorism and Propaganda in Cyberspace’ at the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security at Charles Sturt University. At the Australian National University, Katja has taught and tutored on Middle East politics, Islam and International Terrorism at the postgraduate and undergraduate level.

She is also a member of the Future Operations Research Group and co-founder of the associated Women In Future Operations platform at the UNSW at ADFA. Here, her focus is on insurgent/extremist propaganda and their strategic use in information operations. A key premise underpinning Katja’s research is the need to look beyond technocratic approaches to propaganda campaigns in order to capture the full breadth of extremism, including cognitive and affective factors.

Katja has lived in the Middle East, where she was engaged in educational projects and NGO work in Syria during the early years of Bashar al-Assad’s presidency. She holds a First-Class Honours degree in International Development from the Australian National University, was recipient of several scholarships including an Australian Government Research Training PhD Scholarship, and has been awarded the 2016 ANU Media and Outreach Award as Emerging Media Talent for her commendable media output and performance as a young researcher.

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Sophia Brook

Sophia Brook

Programme Coordinator Research and Analysis
Foreign and Security Policy +61 2 6154 9325


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