Institut Jean Nicod

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Scott Atran is an anthropologist who experiments on ways scientists and ordinary people categorize and reason about nature, on the cognitive and evolutionary psychology of religion, and on limits of rational choice in political and cultural conflict. Scott has done fieldwork around the world, where he has worked with indigenous groups, interviewed political leaders, and carried out behavioral and neuroimaging studies with members and supporters of insurgent and extremist groups, including combatants on the frontlines. He has been engaged in conflict negotiations in the Middle East, and in the establishment of indigenously managed forest reserves for Native American peoples. Scott has briefed NATO, U.S. Congress and UK Parliament, EU Governments, the World Economic Forum and others on the Devoted Actor versus the Rational Actor in Managing World Conflict, on the Comparative Anatomy and Evolution of Global Network Terrorism, and on Pathways to and from Violent Extremism. He has addressed the United Nations Security Council on problems of youth and violent extremism and has served in advisory capacity to the Security Council and Secretary General on combatting terrorism and on ways to engage and empower youth in the promotion of peace. He is also a founding fellow of the Centre for Resolution of Intractable Conflict at the University of Oxford, and co-founder of ARTIS International, an international academic and policy group that uses field-based scientific research to understand and lessen intergroup violence around the world. 

5-year research program : 1] Motivational, ideological and Social Processes in Political Violence The project brings together an interdisciplinary team to increase understanding how ordinary people turn to political violence and what to do about it. Our approach addresses issues at different, interdependent, levels of analysis, namely : (1) psychological (including motivational and cognitive processes underlying action, brain mechanisms mediating moral and utilitarian decision making), (2) socio-psychological (including attributes and dynamics of social networks and processes of persuasion and social influence), (3) cultural-anthropological focused on the unique systems of values and meanings that anchor terrorism-justifying ideologies. The research is intended to weave them into a coherent whole to gain insights into processes of radicalization and deradicalization.

2] Fragmentation Factors in the Potential Unraveling of the European Union and World Order (Institutions of political and economic globalization). Before the Napoleonic wars the nation-state system was quasi-anarchic, with each nation playing a zero sum game with all competitors and neighbors. This international order began to unravel, when nations started breaking the rules (Russia in the Balkans, Italy in N. Africa, etc.) and anarchism became the scourge of the great powers. This project will explore somewhat similar processes threatening the post-WWII world order, but also focusing on the novel role of cyber conflict using insights from project-specific surveys, behavioral experiments, neuroimaging studies, and mathematical modeling and monitoring of social media.