Disentangling Jihad, Political Violence and Media

Edited by Simone Pfeifer, Christoph Günther, Robert Dörre

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Explores how Jihad, political violence and audio-visual media are entangled in particular ways as discursive formations

  • Fosters critical perspectives on the invocation of a narrow understanding of jihad and political violence in different social contexts
  • Points to the operation of media and aesthetic means to articulate or defy notions of jihad in the context of political violence
  • Comprises 16 case studies on forms of knowledge production, aesthetic manifestations, socio-political enactments, and archival practices that shape the entanglement of jihad, political violence, and media
  • Presents empirically-grounded research from the perspective of Anthropology, Art History, Cultural Studies, Islamic Studies, Media Studies, and Political Science
  • Advances reflections on knowledge production and ethical challenges of research in this field

The entanglement of Jihad, Political Violence, and Media has determined the lives of Muslims in Europe and the US over the past 20 years. This book unravels the nexus of these elements, to critically examine how their conjunction is perpetuated, reproduced, or disputed. In 16 case studies, the contributors critically reflect on the identification of jihad with political violence, address the academic, legal, political and broader public production of knowledge on this topic, examine the aesthetic formations involved in the mediation and reaffirmation of this narrow understanding, explore the experiential worlds of people whose ideas and actions are labelled as and affected by notions of violent jihad, and illuminate the institutional and media contexts (e.g. of archives) in which an entanglement of jihad and political violence takes effect, with profound consequences.

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List of Figures
Notes on Contributors
Foreword by Salman Sayyid

Introduction: Disentangling Jihad, Political Violence and Media
Christoph Günther, Robert Dörre and Simone Pfeifer

Part I Notions of Jihad and The Production of Knowledge

1 The Portrayal of Jihadi-Salafism: The Role of Knowledge
Production in Fabricating a Global Enemy
Jaan S. Islam

2 Jihad Goes to Court: The Invocation of Islamic Idioms in
Terrorism Prosecutions
Nicole Nguyen

3 ‘Look a certain way in order to resist’: An Analysis of German
Short Videos against Islamism
Sindyan Qasem

4 Criminalising Critical Scholarship: Austria’s Intelligence Service
and Islamophobia Studies
Farid Hafez

5 Will the Real Jihadi Please Stand Up? On ‘Jihadism’ as a
Conceptual Weapon
Darryl Li

Part II Audiovisual Mediations and Formations of Jihad

6 Terrorism Education in ISIS’s Use of Children’s Mobile Apps
Ahmed Al-Rawi

7 From ISIS to the AfD: Ultraist Rhetoric and Visuality in
Alt-Orientalist Concurrence
Christiane Gruber

8 The Sound and Sense of Jihad: Revisiting the Notion of Jihad
in Jihadi-themed Arabic Chants
Kurstin Gatt

9 Documenting the Yazidi Survival of Genocide: Aesthetics and
Politics between Sabaya, the Murad Code and The Last Girl
Sebastian Köthe

Part III Ethnographic Perspectives on Imaginations and Materialities

10 Talking Jihad: The Interactive Construction of a Racialised
Threat in the Netherlands
Martijn de Koning

11 Fragments of Utopia: Political and Religious Emigrations from
France to Syria
Hamza Esmili

12 Acting with God: Divine Interruption and Practices of Jihad
Anja Kublitz

13 Secular Normativity in Anti-jihad Discourse in France
Aïcha Bounaga

Part IV Affective Archives – Enduring Sounds and Images

14 An Epilogue of Images: On Theorising and Archiving Daesh’s
Videos of Violence
Robert Dörre

15 Remediating Images of War: Cultural Practices behind Syrian
Digital Archives after 2011
Enrico De Angelis and Yazan Badran

16 Critical Spectatorship, Violent Care
Kevin B. Lee

Afterword: One Person’s Terrorist Is Another Person’s Freedom
Fighter, One Person’s Jihad Is Another’s Crusade: Reflections
on the Tokyo Reels Film Festival by Subversive Film at the
Documenta 15, 2022
Wendy M. K. Shaw


A rich collection of thought-provoking contributions on jihadism and its place in Western discourse.

Thomas Hegghammer, Oxford University
Simone Pfeifer is a postdoctoral researcher at the Research Training Group anschließen-ausschließen: Cultural Dynamics Beyond Globalized Networks at the University of Cologne. She is a social and cultural anthropologist with a focus on visual, digital and media anthropology. Her research interests include transnational migration and mobility in postmigrant contexts, political violence, religion, and artistic practices, and ethics in (digital) ethnographic research. Her recent publications include Social Media im transnationalen Alltag (2020, transcript), the co-edited volume Jihadi Audiovisuality and its Entanglements: Meanings, Aesthetics, Appropriations (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) with Christoph Günther, and the co-edited special section Dark Ethnographies? (ZfE 2021: 146).

Christoph Günther is the Principal Investigator of the junior research group Jihadism on the Internet: Images and Videos, their Dissemination and Appropriation in the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. Having a background in Islamic Studies, his research interests include religio-political movements in the modern Middle East, visual cultures and iconography, and the sociology of religion. He is the author of Entrepreneurs of Identity: The Islamic State’s Symbolic Repertoire (Berghahn Books, 2022) and has co-edited Jihadi Audiovisuality and its Entanglements: Meanings, Aesthetics, Appropriations (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) with Simone Pfeifer.

Robert Dörre is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the field of media cultural studies at the department for Theory, Aesthetics and Politics of Digital Media at Ruhr University Bochum. His research interests comprise digital culture and social media, media relations between visibility and violence, affect theory, media as intervening agencies and VR films. In his PhD thesis, he addressed forms of audiovisual self-documentation in social media. The resulting book was published by Büchner-Verlag in 2022 under the title Mediale Entwürfe des Selbst.

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