News

Upcoming Concordia Webinar About PROFILE

Concordia University will be offering a Webinar with guest speaker Vivek Venkatesh who will discuss the recently launched PROFILE. It is a toolkit that creates awareness around the impasse of systemic racism and profiling and offers possible ways forward.

 

The online event takes place Wednesday, August 12, 2020, from 12-1 PM and is free but requires registration here

 

For more information about the event, please click here.

Vox Pol Featuring Project Someone Collaborators’ Recent Study

Vox Pol, a European Union Network of Excellence framework program dedicated to the study of online violent political extremism, currently features a two-part series on a recent study by Simon Fraser University’s Tiana GaudetteMichigan State University’s Ryan Scrivens, and Project Someone Director Vivek Venkatesh.

 

In the series, the authors provide an overview of their study titled “The Role of the Internet in Facilitating Violent Extremism: Insights from Former Right-Wing Extremists” published a short time ago in Terrorism and Political Violence.

 

To read the first part of the series, please click here and the second part is available here.

New Article on the Link Between the Internet and Violent Extremism

Tiana Gaudette (Simon Fraser University), Ryan Scrivens (Michigan State University), and Vivek Venkatesh recently published a new article titled “The Role of the Internet in Facilitating Violent Extremism: Insights from Former Right-Wing Extremists” in Terrorism and Political Violence.

The article explores the link between the internet and violent extremism based on interviews with and experiences of former extremists.

Public Safety Canada supported the work under the Community Resilience Fund and Concordia University’s Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

To read the article, please click here.

Vivek Venkatesh’s Recent Talk on Systemic Racism Now Online

 

On June 23, 2020, Project Someone Director, Vivek Venkatesh spoke at Understanding Systemic Racism in Canada: Concept and Data, an online conference organized by the Association for Canadian Studies, Metropolis Canada, and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, where he discussed PROFILE, a recently launched toolkit that aims to combat racial and social profiling.

To view the talk, please click here.

New CEFIR Report on Teaching About Sensitive Topics

Justine Castonguay-Payant and Martin Geoffroy of the Centre d’expertise et de formation sur les intégrismes religieux, les idéologies politiques et la radicalisation [Center of Expertise and Training on Religious Fundamentalism, Political Ideologies and Radicalization] (CEFIR) Cégep Édouard-Montpetit, recently published a research report entitled “Radicalization, sensitive subjects and co-construction of knowledge: A review of the writings.”

According to the report, “College teachers often face many challenges such as recent high immigration (Montreal, Longueuil, etc.), the fragile identity of their students, but also the teaching of so-called sensitive or controversial subjects (political ideologies, far-right movements, realities of LGBTQ + communities and people with disabilities, etc.). Faced with these challenges, many students and teachers adopt a posture of self-censorship and avoidance (Wilkins-Laflamme et al., 2018), detracting from the argued and critical debates that can help some young people to face the call of radicalization, in addition to limiting the circulation and co-construction of knowledge in this area. Therefore, this report aims to shed light on what is said or done concerning college research, the circulation of knowledge between actors in education, and the teaching of sensitive issues such as radicalization that can lead to violence. While specifying basic notions relating to radicalization, this report makes it possible to better identify research contributions (action, participative, partnership, collaborative, etc.), methods, proposals, recommendations, teaching methods, and devices, which could be mobilized for this purpose. It also encourages cooperative approaches between professionals to concentrate efforts in awareness-raising, research, training, or, more broadly, prevention of radicalization.”

This report was produced with the financial support of Public Safety Canada’s Community Resilience Fund.

For more information (available in French only), please click here.

Prestigious FRQSC Grant for Concordia’s CSLP

Photo: Alessandro Belleli

Concordia University’s Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance (CSLP) is the recipient of a prestigious $1.8 million grant over the next seven years from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC).

 

Vivek Venkatesh, CSLP and Project Someone Director, and co-Chair for the UNESCO Chair for the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Extremism (UNESCO-PREV) points out that the grant is excellent news all around because Project Someone and UNESCO-PREV are key initiatives in the CSLP. 

 

To read the full story, please click here.

New Research Examines Discourse Surrounding the Polytechnique Massacre

By Laurie-Anne Beaulieu

The research I carried out with Project Someone, under the supervision of Maxime Bérubé and Vivek Venkatesh, relates specifically to the anti-feminist attack at Polytechnique. The methodology, Corpus-assisted Critical Discourse Analysis (CACDA), was developed and used by Tieja Thomas (2015) of Concordia University. Our corpus includes a series of threads collected on Reddit concerning the femicidal massacre at the Polytechnique, which occurred on December 6, 1989, in Montreal, Quebec. The study aimed to explore the discourse that appeared in public discussions on the platform.

CACDA helped us identify the presence of discourse on widespread violence, the phenomenon of mass murder, gun control, the psychology of the killer, overtly anti-feminist discourse, the presence of hate speech and the association of the event to an ideological movement, all listed in the traditional media by Blais (2009). However, we also observed new themes specific to this platform. We found two additional types of discourse, namely one relating to hate speech targeting the origin of the killer’s father, and the association between the Polytechnique attack and the incel movement.

This project contributes to developing knowledge on the comments made in political discussions in digital spaces, specifically concerning misogyny, anti-feminism, hate speech, and links to virtual social movements. This study demonstrates how they reflect the virtual shifting extension of existing social structures in the analog world and their socio-political impacts online and offline. It also improves the typology proposed by Blais (2009). In this sense, and as CACDA demonstrates, the Polytechnique attack is a launchpad among others to propagate discourse surrounding existing controversies above and beyond the original event. Moreover, to promote the fertility of this new typology and allow for its use in other contexts, we have paid particular attention to presenting these new types of discourse in a way that does not apply to only one case study. As a result, Blais’ (2009) discoveries and this research can help to analyze how other attacks or political events are tackled in traditional and social media and compare them along the lines of the political motivations of the killers, or targets. It can also generate practical benefits for social education and improving public policy. In this sense, it could contribute to developing an awareness-raising approach about the treatment of controversial discussions in digital spaces and the use of certain types of discourse to guide subsequent discussions, particularly by diverting attention to central subjects related to the context. Such research also allows for a more objective look at the use of specific events for political ends, which is a relevant contribution to developing public policies on the problems associated with it.

References:

Thomas, T. (2015). Analyzing Online Discourses of Canadian Citizenship: O Canada! True North, Strong, and Free? (Doctoral thesis, Concordia University)

Blais, M. (2009). J’haïs les féministes! Montréal, Canada: Éditions du Remue-ménage.

New Article on “Futures Thinking in Black Metal”

Don’t miss Vivek Venkatesh and Jason Wallin’s new article “‘No satisfaction, no fun, no future’: Futures thinking in black metal” in Volume 6. Issue 2 of Metal Music Studies.

According to the abstract, the authors aim to “think the burgeoning theoretical orientation known as accelerationism alongside black metal, particularly as black metal harnesses accelerationist strategies of negation and opposition on behalf of surveying a world out-of-step with its ‘normative’ conceptualization. We claim that the relationship of accelerationism and black metal supports a stronger understanding of black metal’s ‘futurist thinking’ in that each cultivates a comportment for saying ‘NO’ to the world ‘as it is’ while advancing futures remote to the current civilizational order and the patterning of social being that such order presumes. It is along such aspects of resistance, we claim, that black metal both disarticulates the present and creates conditions for thinking the future, although one that contravenes the presumption of human supremacy, preservation and mastery. Further, by thinking black metal alongside accelerationism, we might better understand the conceptual and quasi-theoretical force of black metal as an artistic convergence point for apprehending an encroaching world of inhuman transformation and civilizational change.”

To view the article, please click here.

PROFILE Media Coverage

 

On June 16, 2020, The Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO), and Vivek Venkatesh, co-Chair of the UNESCO Chair on the Prevention of Radicalization and Violent Extremism (UNESCO-PREV) and Director of Project SOMEONE launched PROFILE, an educational toolkit to combat racial and social profiling.

 The toolkit aims to help front-line community leaders, health providers, educators, and the police by creating a better awareness and understanding of the issue through a constructive approach.

 Since its launch, the following media outlets have reported on and interviewed Vivek Venkatesh about the project:

Concordia news story

CBC Let’s Go Montreal

CBC Phare Ouest Vancouver (in French)

CTV News Montreal

Le Devoir article (in French)

New Article on Social Media Forensics

Photo: Markus Spiske

 

Project Someone collaborator and former postdoctoral fellow, Maxime Bérubé, recently co-authored a new article titled Social Media Forensics Applied to Assessment of Post–Critical Incident Social Reaction: The Case of the 2017 Manchester Arena Terrorist Attack”in Forensic Science International Journal.

 

The paper’s authors explain that forensic science has ongoing issues concerning digital data. They suggest a solution for this problem using machine-learning techniques, particularly natural language processing and Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) topic modeling, to study large-scale text data. For this study, the authors used Twitter messages posted within 24 hours of the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack. The findings indicate that this method improves on existing social media monitoring tools. 

 

To read the publication, please click here.