Pursuing the allure of combat: an ethnography of violence amongst Iraqi Shi’I combatants fighting ISIS

Younes Saramifar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The social sciences speak of violence through its meaning, performances, manifestations and representations; however, the inner workings of violence are less explored. In order to suggest a different mode of seeing violence, I explore the inner workings of violence through the pleasures of and fun among Shi’i volunteer combatants. I apply Walter Benjamin’s motion of pure means to explain how violence becomes self-referential and non-representational via combat-zone ethnography amongst Iraqi Shi’i militants who fought against ISIS in Iraq. I address the fine line between pleasure and fun in order to highlight the inner workings of violence during combat and to encourage a fresh bottom-up anthropological perspective in assessing the parameters of the persistence and resilience of volunteer combatants. My approach advocates moving beyond recruitment and ideological interpolation by questioning the allure of combat through an ontological framework that includes combatants’ perspectives and narratives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-227
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
Volume12
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jul 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • combat-zone ethnography
  • fun
  • Iraq
  • ISIS
  • Pleasures of violence
  • Shi’i militancy
  • subjectivity

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