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Conceptual Framework

In recent years, Jihadi-Salafi actors have been particularly successful with their audio-visual media productions and their dissemination via social media. Through complex and multi-layered media offerings, they want to convey their beliefs, values and norms, their ideology-based interpretation of reality and their understanding of religion, power and society to a broad audience. In particular, the elaborately produced videos are intended to appeal to different audiences through their aesthetics, but also by way of their specific themes and narratives. In addition, these videos are advertised on social media and are integrated into communicative contexts in which the Jihadi-Salafi background is not always clearly recognizable or, for example, receives increased attention due to its overtly violent content.

At the same time, a range of actors engage with these communicative propositions both interpretatively and creatively. Artists, activists, journalists, researchers as well as Muslim experts and net activists also use a broad variety of textual, acoustic, and audio-visual means to engage with Jihadi-Salafi media. Through these discursive and digital-media references, they contribute to the configurations, interpretations and interactions that evolve around Jihadi-Salafi media production and thus also become part of the field of research Jihadi Audiovisualities and their Entanglements.

This field of research is the primary epistemic interest of the interdisciplinary junior research group Jihadism on the Internet: Images and Videos, their Appropriation and Dissemination. Seven researchers with a background in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Media and Film Studies, Islamic Studies, and Media Informatics collaboratively examine what Jihadi-Salafi communicate through (moving) images, how they communicate it and in what ways people engage with these propositions.

Our research combines ethnographic methods with new digital methods in the humanities and social sciences along five epistemological axes:

  1. Logical and discursive structures based on which actors structure their thinking and acting.
  2. Audio-Visual media and their configurations in speech, sound and image acts as well as their formal aesthetic and rhetorical structuring.
  3. Actors involved in the production, distribution or engagement with Jihadi Audiovisualities.
  4. Actions and practices of actors.
  5. Contextual factors as variables influencing actions and practices on a social and media level.

Our goal is to identify specific logics and media strategies in Jihadi-Salafi audiovisual media and ensuing user generated content, which may be affirmative of or in opposition to the former. We are particularly interested in which procedures and references are used that can influence attractiveness, acceptance and potential effects of any of these media. Using methods of media ethnography, we also want to find out in which ways this content plays a role in the everyday lives and media practices of (young) people both online and offline.

The findings of the project can complement media or radicalization research. First and foremost, they provide an insight into the significance of Jihadi-Salafi messages in the lives of users of digital media and the communicative interdependencies that arise from the manifold ways in which people engage with this material. In the medium term, our observations will be transferred to an online platform, where we will provide information for political education, prevention projects or press offices and political decision-makers.


Christoph Günther
Simone Pfeifer
Yorck Beese
Alexandra Dick
Larissa-Diana Fuhrmann
Mirko Scherf


Yorck Beese


2020: „Der Datensatz IS 2018 A/B: Eine Studie des ideologischen Potenzials von IS-Propaganda im Sommer 2018.“ In: Sicherheitslagen und Sicherheitstechnologien. Beiträge der ersten Sommerakademie der zivilen Sicherheitsforschung 2018, ed. by Sabrina Ellebrecht, Nicholas Eschenbruch & Peter Zoche. Münster: LIT Verlag.

2019: „The Structure and Visual Rhetoric of the Martyrdom Video: An Enquiry into the Martyrdom Video Genre. In: BEHEMOTH. A Journal on Civilisation 12 (1). Freiburg: Bibliothek der Universität Freiburg.

2019: „Exekutionsvideos des Islamischen Staates. Filmsprache, Zielpublika und rhetorische Potenziale.“ In: Zeitschrift für Semiotik, 39 (3-4). Tübingen: Stauffenberg. 71–105.


expected 2020: „Animationen in jihadistischer Videopropaganda. Bewegung unter dem Gebot des islamischen Anikonismus.“ In: Propaganda des ‘Islamischen Staats’: Formen und Formate, ed. by Bernd Zywietz. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

with Simone Pfeifer, Alexandra Dick, Larissa-Diana Fuhrmann, Christoph Günther & Bernd Zywietz (expected 2020): „Inside the Islamic State‘s Media. Eine kollaborative Videoanalyse.“ In: Propaganda des ‘Islamischen Staats’: Formen und Formate, ed. by Bernd Zywietz. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

with Bernd Zywietz (expected 2020): „Appropriation in Islamic State Propaganda: A Theoretical and Analytical Framework of Types and Dimensions.“

Blog Posts:

with Till Baaken (27.1.2020): „Die Peripherie des Extremismus auf YouTube. Ein explorativer Blick auf die Technik II“.

with Till Baaken (20.1.2020): „Die Peripherie des Extremismus auf YouTube. Ein explorativer Blick auf die Technik I“.

Alexandra Dick

2019: The Sounds of the Shuhadāʾ: Chants and Chanting in IS Martyrdom Videos. In: BEHEMOTH – A Journal on Civilisation 12 (1): 89-104.

2019: Anāshīd und der mediale Jihad des Islamischen Staates. In: Zeitschrift für Semiotik 39 (3-4) (2017): 55-70.

Christoph Günther

2020: Iconic Socioclasm: Idol-Breaking and the Dawn of a New Social Order. In International Journal of Communication. Vol 14: 1830–1848.

2018 (with Tom Bioly): Testimonies to a New Social Order: The Islamic State’s Iconic Iconoclasm. In: Kerstin Schankweiler, Verena Straub and Tobias Wendl (eds.): Image Testimonies. Witnessing in Times of Social Media. London: Routledge, 152–164.

2018 (with Tom Bioly): “Wir halten es für notwendig, alle Formen der Vielgötterei zu zerstören.” Ikonoklasmus und Ikonografie des Islamischen Staates. In: Birgit Münch, Andreas Tacke, Marckwart Herzog and Sylvia Heudecker (eds.): BilderGewalt: Zerstörung – Zensur – Umkodierung – Neuschöpfung. Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 161–170.

Simone Pfeifer

2020 (with Christoph Günther, ed.): Jihadi Audiovisuality and its Entanglements: Meanings, Aesthetics, Appropriations. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 

2020 (with Christoph Günther): Jihadi Audiovisuality and its Entanglements: A conceptual framework. In: Christoph Günther und Simone Pfeifer (ed.). Jihadi Audiovisuality and its Entanglements: Aesthetics, Meanings, Appropriations. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1–19. 

2020 (with Larissa-Diana Fuhrmann und Patricia Wevers): Re-enacting Violence: Testing and Contesting Public Spheres with Appropriations of IS Execution Videos. In: Christoph Günther und Simone Pfeifer (ed.). Jihadi Audiovisuality and its Entanglements: Aesthetics, Meanings, Appropriations. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 161–180.

2020 (with Larissa-Diana Fuhrmann): Challenges in Digital Ethnography: Research Ethics relating to the Securitisation of Islam. In: Journal of Muslims in Europe. Vol. 9 (2): 175–195.

2020 (with Yorck Beese, Alexandra Dick, Larissa-Diana Fuhrmann, Christoph Günther und Bernd Zywietz):  Inside the Islamic State’s Media – Eine kollaborative Videoanalyse. In: Bernd Zywietz (ed.) Propaganda des “Islamischen Staats”: Formen und Formate. Wiesbaden: Springer Verlag, 363–411.   

2019 (with Lene Faust): Dealing with Challenging Research Situations. Audio Guide as part of the Somatics Toolkit – Extended Practice.

Bernd Zywietz

2019: Propagandistische Text-Akte, Text-Funktionen und funktionale Relationen: Theoretisch-konzeptionelle Überlegungen zu einem Analyseansatz. In: Zeitschrift für Semiotik, 39. Jg., Nr. 3-4 (Jahrgangsband 2017), S. 31–54. 

2019: Ästhetisierung zwischen schockhafter Provokation und ethisch-moralischer Notwendigkeit – Zur Analyse der visuellen Botschaften des ‚Islamischen Staats‘ als Propaganda und als Gegenstand der Berichterstattung. In: Clemens Schwender, Cornelia Brantner, Camilla Graubner, Joachim von Gottberg (eds.) (2019): zeigen / andeuten / verstecken. Bilder zwischen Verantwortung und Provokation. Köln: Herbert von Halem, S. 198–214.

2018 (with Klaus Sachs-Hombach) (eds.): Fake News, Hashtags & Social Bots. Neue Methoden populistischer Propaganda. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

2018 (with Klaus Sachs-Hombach): Einführung: Propaganda, Populismus und populistische Propaganda. In: Klaus Sachs-Hombach and Bernd Zywietz (eds.): Fake News, Hashtags & Social Bots. Neue Methoden populistischer Propaganda. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 1–11.

2018: F wie Fake News – Phatische Falschmeldungen zwischen Propaganda und Parodie. In: Bernd Zywietz and Klaus Sachs-Hombach (eds.): Fake News, Hashtags & Social Bots. Neue Methoden populistischer Propaganda. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 97–131.



Dr. Christoph Günther
Department of Anthropology and African Studies
Forum universitatis 6
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
D-55099 Mainz
E-Mail: contact[at]jihadism-online[dot]de