Mediating Islamic State| Theologians, Poets, and Lone Wolves: Mapping Medium-Specific Epistemologies of Radicalization

Brian T. Hughes


Examinations into the roots of Islamist terrorism have frequently presented the phenomenon as a result of either perverting political–religious epistemologies into distorted, caricatured fundamentalisms, or, alternatively, as a return to form, whereby a pure, root ideology/metaphysic is rediscovered. The former approach reflects a discourse rooted in print media and characterized by logical argumentation, linear chronology, and deference to the text. The latter approach reflects a discourse rooted in modes of secondary orality, which posit a font of ideal essence that precedes expression. The figure of the digitally engaged lone wolf undermines these discourses. His violent extremism appears only Islamically inflected through an accretion of contradictory mediated encounters linking representations of violence, Islam, and the lone wolf himself. This article argues that a new approach and discourse should therefore emerge, specific to the hypertextual and rhizomatic qualities of multiplicity and contradiction that characterize the digitally engaged lone wolf.


terrorism, extremism, ISIS, Islamophobia, radicalization, discourse, medium theory, hypermedia, affect

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