I am an assistant professor in the School of Politics & International Relations at the University of Nottingham. I study what it means to “know terrorism when we see it”—and who gets to decide. I do this by talking to national security bureaucrats and policymakers in Germany and the U.S. and seeking to understand how the people who make counterterrorism policy understand what terrorism is, where it comes from, and what makes it different from other forms of violence.
My current book project, The Idea of Terror: White Supremacist Violence and the Making of Counterterrorism, uses interviews and fieldwork in Germany and the United States to investigate the persistent lack of policy responses to white supremacist violence. I argue and empirically demonstrate that institutional white supremacy constrains the imaginations of even the most anti-racist national security policymakers, and in doing so constitutes counterterrorism as a tool of governance, not national security. I also work on far-right extremism, international security law, and critical theory. My work has been published or is forthcoming in International Studies Quarterly, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Lawfare, The Washington Post, and Political Violence at a Glance.
I am a devoted educator and the former communications director of the Teaching Assistants’ Association, UW–Madison’s graduate labor union. As a queer academic with mental illness, I am passionate about creating classrooms welcoming to and inclusive of all learners. I piloted UW–Madison political science’s first diversity recruitment initiative, served on both departmental and professional committees advocating for graduate students, and was part of a team that studied the history of Black faculty hires in UW–Madison political science.
I received my Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2021. Before graduate school, I worked on the Global Terrorism Database at the START Consortium at the University of Maryland, on communications and defense research at the Project On Government Oversight, and in coffee and wine sales. I hold an MA in political science from UW–Madison and bachelor’s degrees in international relations and modern languages (summa cum laude, with honors) from Knox College. I use she/her pronouns.
I tweet frequently about terrorism, academia, and social justice at @AnnaMeierPS.