Jihadi Anthropology

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMar 16, 2010 5:57 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Over at Savage Minds, there's an interesting post on the merits of anthropologists hanging in the field with jihadists. It quotes Roxanne Varzi wondering how to contextualize jihadi videos:

These strike me as a rich source of information about a culture that is otherwise inaccessible to anthropologists: jihadi martyrs. How would you go about developing a critical anthropological methodology to reading these video texts?

Varzi then says, apparently, that she wouldn't do it without an ethnographic component. Which makes Adam Fish wonder:

Let me get this right. I gotta hang out, like, deeply, with jihadi terrorists? As an anthropologist I cannot make a statement about jihadi video production practices without having first squeezed my way into their schedule and shared a few meetings over tea with my local jihadist? I'd love to, frankly, but I doubt I can network into their cliques.

Two relevant questions seem to be missing from this discussion. Wouldn't the Human Terrain program make this a wee bit more problematic and dangerous (methinks jihadists probably know about it). And secondly, even if no Human Terrain anthropologists were working in a war zone, there would still be a huge risk factor. It's not insurmountable--journalists find a way to talk to jihadists--but it's there, which Fish seems to ignore.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2023 Kalmbach Media Co.