Home

I am an Assistant Professor of Terrorism and Political Violence at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA), Leiden University (Netherlands), and Editor-in-Chief, Senior Project Manager at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT, Netherlands). I’m also an Adjunct Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University (US). My research focuses primarily on terrorism and counterterrorism, with a specialization in the roles of women, and gender dynamics. More recently, I have also examined non-state actor governance.

Photo by Monika Graff, 9/11 Memorial

A Woman’s Place

A Woman’s Place: US Counterterrorism Since 9/11

The 9/11 attacks fundamentally transformed how the U.S. approached terrorism, and led to the unprecedented expansion of counterterrorism strategies, policies, and practices. While the analysis of these developments is rich and vast, there remains a significant void. The diverse actors contributing to counterterrorism increasingly consider, engage and impact women as agents, partners, and targets of their work. Yet, flawed assumptions and stereotypes remain prevalent, and it remains undocumented and unclear how and why counterterrorism efforts evolved as they did in relation to women.

Drawing on extensive primary source interviews and documents, A Woman’s Place traces the evolution of women’s place in U.S. counterterrorism efforts through the administrations of Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump, examining key agencies like the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of State, and USAID. In their own words, Joana Cook investigates how and why women have developed the roles they have, and interrogates U.S. counterterrorism practices in key countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. Analysing conceptions of and responses to terrorists, she also examines how the evolving roles of women in Al-Qaeda and ISIS have impacted U.S. counterterrorism considerations.

You can purchase “A Woman’s Place” directly from Hurst, Oxford University Press or your local bookshop. Paperback version available through Hurst in August 2021.

Reviews of “A Woman’s Place: US Counterterrorism Since 9/11”

A Woman’s Place is a comprehensive examination of the multiple, diverse and critical roles played by women in counterterrorism. Joana Cook has produced a cornerstone text that is an extraordinary testament of the value of academic–practitioner engagement. Simply groundbreaking.’ — John Horgan, Professor of Psychology, Georgia State University

‘An authoritative assessment of the trajectory of the American-led war on terrorism from a thoroughly compelling and highly original perspective. Cook has an impressive command of the subject and her exegesis of its issues and challenges is clear and engaging.’ — Bruce Hoffman, Professor of Security Studies, Georgetown University, and author of Inside Terrorism

‘Cook provides a sweeping and yet detailed account of how the U.S. government has—and hasn’t—incorporated women in understanding terrorism and its response. Covering counterterrorism from the Bush administration onward, A Woman’s Place is a must-read on gender and security in the post-9/11 landscape.’ — Jayne Huckerby, Clinical Professor of Law, Duke University

‘Cook has assembled an impressive array of evidence to show the ways in which women “appear” in counterterrorism discourse. Her approach shows how the U.S. government has positioned women as agents, victims, and targets of the Global War on Terrorism. A novel, comprehensive, and illuminating read.’ — Erica Chenoweth, Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

‘A tour de force.’ — CHOICE

‘This book provides a new and important perspective of America’s Wars on Terror. Comprehensive and superbly written!’ — Peter R. Neumann, Professor of Security Studies, King’s College London

‘Cook provides a comprehensive overview of US counterterrorism policy since 9/11.  [Her] analysis usefully summarises and incorporates theories of feminist security studies … [and she] astutely observes how the promotion of women’s rights were executed in US national security and foreign policy-making and how they were often conflated with counterterrorism success.’ — The Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter

A Special Message from Former US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer (now Director of Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security.”

Book reviews

Windisch, Beth. Review of A Woman’s Place: U.S. Counterterrorism Since 9/11, by Joana Cook. Homeland Security Affairs 16, Article 4. hsaj.org/articles16072

Khalil, Lydia. “Counterterrorism: A woman’s game.” Lowy Institute, The Interpreter. 6 March 2020.

Julia Handle, “Review – Joana Cook: A Woman’s Place. US Counterterrorism since 9/11.” Violence Prevention Network, Interventionen – Zeitschrift für Verantwortungspädagogik. 14 August 2019

*A 2020 book tour saw stops including Harvard, Yale, UN-CTED, West Point, NYU, The Washington Institute, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, START (University of Maryland), Women in International Security (WIIS), The Canadian Mission to the US, The State Department, the Pentagon, the 9/11 Museum, Duke, House of Lords (UK) (amongst others).

**Short-listed for British International Studies Association (BISA) Susan Strange Best Book prize 

***Cited by “Political Violence at a Glance” as a Top Read for 2020 (“A Woman’s Place)