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Islamic State’s Digital Warfare and the Global Media System

Sun, May 27, 14:00 to 15:15, Hilton Prague, M, Tyrolka

Abstract

Though most public discourse about Islamic State worldwide represents the group as a radical alterity, a close examination of Islamic State’s global communication practices suggests another line of interpretation. Drawn from a book project that conceptualizes Islamic State as a war machine that operates through a media spectacle, this paper uses Islamic State as an entry point to critique the current global media system, including television news and social media platforms. I argue that Islamic State is a postcolonial, neoliberal war machine perfectly suited to exploit the commercial global media architecture, a system that thrives on fueling a global and immediate fear affect based on practices of othering—the manufacture of crisis—in order to drive ratings. Referring to selected Islamic State releases, I use Debord’s distinction between “concentrated” and “diffuse” spectacle to critique Islamic State’s “integrated spectacle” feeding on the cultural and commercial logics of contemporary media.

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