Countering Violent Extremism - Towards a New Era of Peacebuilding

Project image: 
Ben O'Loughlin and Courtney A. Beale

Thursday, April 21, 2016, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Countering Violent Extremism - Towards a New Era of Peacebuilding

New York University, 1307 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20005 (Metro: McPherson Square)

The panel series Iconoclash has been an enquiry into cultural and value systems connected with terrorism in the Middle East and the West. The project aims to better understand the cultural complexity and role of media in the rise of Islamic extremism, as well as the roles we all play. Extremists’ conquests of regions and cities, whereby they harm people, annihilate memory, remap geopolitics and impose apocalyptic imagery and narratives, universalizes their idea of order and submission. Their apocalyptic imagery and declamations are propagated through social media and have gained international attraction and relevance. To overcome the persisting threat requires more than military hardware. But what is actually needed to achieve lasting peace in this region of the world and with its inhabitants?

This final panel provides an overview of the lessons learned from over twenty years of interacting with Islamic fundamentalism. How do we bridge the gaps in trust and understanding?  How do we build dialogue and cooperation on an equal level? What can the arts or other means of cultural interaction contribute to overcoming the bottleneck of dialogue? How can we successfully use social media for such ends?

This panel concludes the series Iconoclash 2015/2016, organized by EUNIC Washington DC and supported by the EU Delegation to the U.S.


Ben O’Loughlin is Professor of International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London. O’Loughlin’s expertise is in the field of international political communication. He is Specialist Adviser to the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Soft Power and UK Influence. The committee aims to understand how power and influence are changing in a transformed global media and geopolitical landscape and how the UK can most effectively exercise power within that landscape. O’Loughlin joined Royal Holloway in 2006 after completing a DPhil Politics at the University of Oxford in October 2005. From 2004-2006 he was Research Associate on the Economic and Social Research Council project Shifting Securities: News Cultures Before and Beyond Iraq War 2003, for which he was based at the University of Wales Swansea and King’s College London.

Courtney A. Beale is Senior Director for Global Engagement National Security Council and Special Assistant to the president at the National Security Council. In that role, she oversees the U.S. government’s public diplomacy efforts to engage and influence citizens and non-state actors in support of national security goals. Beale graduated with a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Princeton University in 2013 and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in 2002. Prior to her present posting, Beale worked as the Director of the Office of Strategic Planning in the Public Affairs Bureau, served as the Public Affairs Officer for three U.S. consulates in northeast Mexico, and was the Deputy Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. She speaks Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, and U.S. government jargon.

Made possible with support from the British Council.