Critical Approaches / Current Events AboutCritical Approaches VIDEO: The Islamic State: Motivations, Emigration, and Ideology Michael Pregill January 21, 2016 Share Graphic depicting the flow of foreign fighters into Syria to join anti-regime forces, many of whom affiliate with ISIS. The graphic was produced in October 2014 to accompany a report by the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) and The Soufan Group on foreign fighters in Syria (image credit: Gene Thorp, Julie Tate and Swati Sharma). An updated version of the graphic can be viewed here. Here are the final two video excerpts from Mizan’s panel in April 2015 at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, “Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Islamic State.” We have previously presented clips from the panel here and here. First, Mia Bloom encourages us to take a more nuanced approach to understanding the demographics and ideology of foreign fighters emigrating to join ISIS. While it is true that some foreign fighters from Western countries are motivated by social causes such as alienation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement, this is not likely to be true of fighters who join from other states. For example, Tunisia — a Muslim-majority state that has been relatively successful in transitioning to democracy — has furnished the greatest number of foreign fighters for ISIS. A one-dimensional approach to the problem also cannot tell us why some Western countries supply more foreign fighters than others. (The increase in total foreign fighters emigrating from their home states to join ISIS can be discerned by comparing this graphic, based on 2014 figures, and this graphic, produced this month on the basis of more recent figures.) Second, Franck Salameh challenges the claim that ISIS is anomalous in the political and social history of the modern Middle East, which has been dominated by secular nation-states and only in recent decades witnessed perennial appeals to so-called ‘fundamentalist’ groups that espouse radical ideologies grounded in religious claims. The division between religious and secular ideologies is simply not so clean-cut; as Salameh notes, Arab nationalist ideology has frequently been grounded in the claim that Islam is intrinsic to and an essential part of Arab identity. In coming weeks we will post the entire video from the panel here on mizanproject.org. The first issue of Mizan: Journal of Interdisciplinary Approaches to Muslim Societies and Civilizations will also be dedicated to exploring aspects of the Islamic State phenomenon from a variety of perspectives. Finally, check here for details on signing up for our mailing list and joining our community!