#Radicalisation: Social Media and the Mutation of Humanitarianism

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Kevin MCDONALD, Department of Criminology and Sociology, Middlesex Univesity, London, United Kingdom
Much of the debate around contemporary terrorism remains framed in the ‘political violence’ versus ‘extremism’ paradigm that emerged as a structuring principle within post 9/11 terrorism studies.  Within this, the concept of radicalisation plays a key role, intellectually unifying a diverse range of practices, while separating these practices from other forms of violence, such as hate killings or school shootings.  This paper presents research undertaken around the use of social media by western supporters of Islamic State, and highlights themes that point beyond this opposition.  In particular these social media communications highlight the sensory dimensions at the centre of what has emerged as a key path into the support of terrorism, namely a mutation of humanitarianism. This mutation ‘works’ through networked intimacy and prosthetic memory; the changing significance of visual experience and its role in fan cultures; the grammar of hidden and revealed that is associated with the mask; and the place of strangeness and displacement in emerging scapes of affect – in particular associated with imaginaries of extreme violence and migration. Understanding this mutation is not only critical to understanding contemporary radicalisation, it highlights critical transformations at work in the field of digital action and culture.