A thorough assessment of jihadist images and videos reveals a great multiplicity of textual, verbal, and visual figurations, symbols, and patterns of appropriation. Groups and movements such as the ‘Islamic State’ articulate their claim on hegemony also by absorbing and appropriating these codes and symbols. Despite the fundamental polysemy of these signs, Jihadists seek to classify them as unambiguous and interpret them corresponding to their own ideology. This mode of appropriation can be found in still and moving images as well as in the use of poetry and singing. In doing so, Jihadists not only create a mediatized world of experience on the internet, but also construct a specific reality, which takes effect far beyond the World Wide Web.
It is misleading to conceive of extremist offers and their dissemination on the internet primarily as political and social challenges. Throughout the multifaceted cultures of the web 2.0 images and videos of jihadist groups and movements are not only received passively, but rather are subjected to appropriative strategies as they are circulated through social media and messenger services. Being engaged in a complex communication process, sympathizers as well as critics, artists, Muslim lay people and clerics actively connect to these communicative offers. They appropriate parts of these videos and images, transform them, or set their own interpretations against jihadist attempts of classification and disambiguation.
The first international conference of the junior research group Jihadism on the Internet: Images and Videos, their Appropriation, and Dissemination at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies, University of Mainz, takes these observations as an opportunity to take to the centre stage the field of extremist offers, their figurations and aesthetics, and the various forms of appropriation. We want to bring together experts and colleagues from multiple disciplines to foster multifarious exchanges, which will allow us to assess Jihadi audio-visuals in all their complexity. We will explore the acoustic dimension of jihadi videos, focus on cinematic means and the creative power involved in Jihadi audio-visuals, and examine artivist modes of engaging with these communicative offers.