Anna Meier, Ph.D. Candidate

University of Wisconsin-Madison

City: Madison, Wisconsin

Country: United States

About Me:

I am a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I study ideas surrounding terrorism: how policymakers conceptualize threats from non-state actors, the assumptions underlying terrorism as a category of violence, and the consequences of those assumptions for both government and private actors on the ground. My work involves fieldwork and interviews with U.S., German, and UN officials, as well as discourse and computational text analyses. I previously worked on the Global Terrorism Database at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and as a communications associate at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) on Department of Defense acquisition programs, military contracting, and government accountability. I hold an MA in political science from UW-Madison and BAs in international relations and modern languages (German and French) from Knox College.

Research Interests


Political Violence

Conflict Processes & War

Text as Data


State Narratives

Counterterrorism And Counterinsurgency

Countries of Interest


My Research:

I am broadly interested in how people think about political violence. My dissertation projectThe Idea of Terror: A Critical Approach to Consequences of the "Terrorist" Classifier, unpacks the intuition behind the idea that we "know terrorism when we see it" and develops a systematic logic shedding light on which organizations state actors call "terrorist" and the implications for national security policy. "Terrorism" today, I argue, has come to mean contention that challenges established power relations between groups in society—contention constructed as so inherently threatening to the status quo that it must be obliterated rather than appeased or defeated. In the face of changing international norms surrounding the use of force domestically and internationally, "terrorism" serves as a justification for those in power to protect that power through whatever means they deem necessary with minimal, if any, censure. I develop this theory further through interviews with bureaucrats and former policymakers in Germany and the U.S. and at the United Nations, and I test its implications using computational text analysis and critical discourse analysis.I also have ongoing projects related to Islamic State recruitment, emotions as mechanisms in international relations, and state negotiations with militant actors. Read more about these projects on my website.

Media Appearances:

TV Appearances:

(2018) WTMJ-TV Milwaukee

Interview on Islamic State online recruitment and propaganda strategies