A critique of western representations of ISIS: deconstructing contemporary Orientalism

Noah Raffoul Bassil*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The meteoric rise of the group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) has been accompanied by an equally stunning effort to explain from where the organisation emerged, what it is, and why people have been attracted to it. What this article identities, is that despite what appears to be a veneer of intellectual heterogeneity, a deep Orientalism permeates knowledge production about ISIS. Adopting a hybrid-postcolonial lens, the analysis in this article demonstrates that due to a particular Eurocentric-Orientalist schema and disposition, ISIS and its horrendous crimes have been dehistoricised, depoliticised and decontextualised. Additionally, in the process ISIS has been reduced to the Muslim’s fundamentalist dispositions; its innate tendency to incorporate Islamic theological methods, medieval Islamic scholarship, Islamic culture into all forms of politics. Instead, we argue in conclusion, for ISIS to be understood there needs to be a re-reading of the emergence of Islamist violence and terror through a historicised, materialised and politicised methodological framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-94
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Change, Peace and Security
Issue number1
Early online date11 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • ISIS
  • Islamism
  • Orientalism
  • post colonialism
  • representation
  • terrorism


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