Boundless Community: Debating Daesh’s Caliphate at Queen’s University Belfast

I can’t waint to travel to the first joint annual conference between the BASR and Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (ISASR) to be held at Queen’s University Belfast! ( 3-5 September 2018). Scholars working in the academic study of religion/s in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and beyond will be debating their work related to „Borders and Boundaries: ‘Religion’ on the Periphery“. Maybe you want to join the discussion of my paper?

Learn more about the conference…

Boundless Community: Daesh’s Caliphate at the Intersection of the Actual and the Virtual

Over the past decades, feelings of marginalization, or merely disorientation, among Muslims in the Western world have fueled the identification with Daesh’s “virtual umma 2.0.” A modification of the Muslim ummah, as it had emerged in reaction to foreign rule of Muslim lands and the formation of modern nation states in the Middle East, the “vitual ummah 2.0” is both a political and a religious community. Consequently, it serves as a mediator of a transnational, collective identity, defying not only time but especially place and providing “feeling of belonging” at the intersection of the virtual and the actual. This paper firstly introduces the two “waves of its virtualization” of the concept of the Muslim ummah in the 19th and 21st century to illuminate their relationship with the revolutionary agenda of the godfathers of global Jihādī-Salafism. Secondly, and building on these findings, the role of the “virtual ummah 2.0” as a spatially independent community for the territorial, expansionist project of Daesh’s Caliphate is explored along the demarcation line of its actual and virtual inside/outside.

In conclusion, the successful merger of a “virtual and digital ummah 2.0” and “traditional ummah” is identified as one of Daesh’s most powerful sources of internal and external identity formation to unify its highly heterogeneous membership and mobilize diverse local constituencies across a vast territory – a necessary precondition not only to acquire and consolidate both social and territorial control within the borders of its self-declared Caliphate, but also to potentially survive the current loss of its actual territory in Iraq and Syria.

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