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Join the Corcoran School's Mika Natif, professor of art history, in conversation with Christiane Gruber, professor of Islamic art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

When ISIS militants burst onto the scene more than six years ago, journalists and pundits were quick to label the Islamist group a medieval martial movement. Since then, however, scholars have shown how this particular extremist group—one among many ultraist socio-political formations active worldwide—should in fact be considered hyper-modern in its use of futuristic-nostalgic rhetoric, astutely crafted visual messaging, and vast portfolio of media and communication technologies. 

As of late, however, ISIS has been outstripped in sheer production and online presence by a number of right-wing political groups in Europe and the United States, such as Identity Evropa, Alternative für Deutschland, Act for America, and Stop Islamization of America. A close analysis of the rhetorical and visual production of these Euro-American extremist and hate groups reveals not a diametric clash with ISIS’s own output but rather a concurrence in symbolic lexica, in which, above all, a new form of Orientalism—of anathematizing the perceived other—is asserted to craft and entrench a nativist stance. This “border security” stance involves a range of identity-based taxonomic simplifications as well as a calculated instrumentalization of fears linked to migration, miscegenation, and misogyny. 

This talk is based on a chapter in the forthcoming Disentangling Jihad, Political Violence and Media (Edinburgh University Press 2023).

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