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Lecture ‘Meaning making in jihadist propaganda’ by Pieter Nanninga

Datum evenement: 21 maart 2024
Locatie: Hybrid: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Zoom


Practical details and registration:
Time: 15:30 PM CET
Registration: To register (and receive the location or zoom link) send an email to extremebeliefs.fgw@vu.nl

Meaning making in jihadist propaganda: the case of the Islamic State

Jihadist violence has been one of the most prominent topics in research on ‘extreme beliefs’ in the last few decades. However, whereas we have learned a lot about the strategic and ideological backgrounds of jihadist violence, as well as about the radicalisation processes of individual perpetrators, how jihadists perceive their acts of violence and the meanings they attribute to it have remained largely understudied. In this talk, I will explore processes of meaning making of jihadist violence by focusing on the case of the Islamic State (IS). Based on my archive of IS propaganda, I will particularly focus on how IS gives meaning to its violence in its audiovisual releases. Illustrating my approach by discussing prominent themes such as honour and humiliation, purity and pollution, and sacrifice and martyrdom, I will argue that studying the cultural meanings of violence is crucial to grasping its appeal for the perpetrators and their supporters.


Pieter Nanninga is an assistant professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Groningen. His research focuses on transnational jihadism and he is particularly interested in jihadist culture and processes of meaning making in order to contribute to a better understanding of the appeal of jihadist ideology, violence and propaganda for the actors involved.