For over a decade, the French-American anthropologist Scott Atran has been listening to the hopes and dreams of young people from Indonesia to Egypt. He explores the human dynamics of what we analyze as “breeding grounds for terrorism” — why some young people become susceptible to them and others, in the same circumstances, do not. His work sheds helpful light on the question on so many of our minds as we watch horrific news of the day: How could this happen — and how could we possibly help transform it?
is director of research at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, visiting professor at the University of Michigan, senior fellow at Harris Manchester College of Oxford University and research professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. He’s the author of Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood and the (Un)Making of Terrorists.