Dr Katharina Karcher, Lecturer in German in the Department of Modern Languages, has been awarded a €1.4m grant from the European Research Council to conduct a comparative analysis of memory discourses and responses to recent acts of terrorism in Spain, the UK, France and Germany.

The new project – UrbTerr – will investigate more than ten major terrorist attacks to cities in the four countries since 2004 through the following questions: how do people in these four countries honour the memory of those who were killed and injured by acts of terrorism? How do people live, work, and travel in public spaces in the aftermath of terrorist attacks? To what extent does political violence in the past shape our expectations from the future? 

The study will document and analyse a range of voices in contemporary debates on urban terrorism in Europe by speaking with a range of actors including city residents, politicians, architects and political activists. Through this, the research team will explore recent counter-terrorism measures that have been formed in response, and academic debate to date.

Dr Karcher said: “Most of us got used to the site of security checks, barriers, concrete bollards, and other counter-terrorism measures in urban spaces. But do these security measures actually create a sense of security? And, what could alternative responses to terrorist violence look like? These are some of the timely questions that we want to answer.”


This award win follows Karcher’s research into feminist protest and female political violence in the Federal Republic of Germany, and study of the English exile of Germany’s iconic student leader, Rudi Dutschke.

Dr Karcher will lead a team of two PhD students, one postdoctoral researcher, and a research assistant for the five-year project will begin towards the end of the year. Follow @katharkarcher for updates about the project.