Political affects and the reluctance to repatriate 'Foreign Terrorist Fighters': An intersectional approach

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


Since 2012 hundreds of Belgians, also known as Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF’s) or departees who travelled to Syria and Iraq to join jihadi groups. Almost a decade later, and even after the defeat of the so-called ‘Caliphate’, the world is still facing challenges regarding these departees and their children. Many of them were killed, some are on the run, some have been incarcerated in prisons or camps, and others –called ‘returnees’– have been repatriated or came back by their own means (Paul & Acheson, 2020). The public debate on what to do with these departees and their children has been going –and is still going– on for years. Research has shown that ethnic-cultural minorities are often framed as either victims or a threat (Berbers et al., 2016; Van Gorp, 2005) and that Islam and Muslims have often been negatively framed (d’Haenens & Bink, 2007; Shahid, 2005). Thus when an uninformed media consumer is being informed on the returnee issue, he/she will most likely adopt the frame that is being provided, which according to research is predominantly negative (Berbers et al., 2016).
The presentation will first address the Belgian case of (potential) returnees. Subsequently it will give a literature review on the existing discourses on (potential) returnees. Based on a critical discourse analysis, the final part will illustrate that the reluctance to repatriate is fundamentally connected to gender and racial dynamics and political affects such as betrayal, hostility, suspicion, fear.
Period28 Jun 2023
Event title29th International Conference of Europeanists
Event typeConference
LocationReykjavik, Iceland
Degree of RecognitionInternational