Maria Mahdessian
Visual Techniques for Counter–Jihadi Narratives

Islamic State (IS)’s self-representational photographs elicit and modulate to aspire its audience’s perception and emotions to join the group. Its agility and ability to appeal to young adults and to radicalize them urges experts to effectively counter jihadi narratives.

This research investigates how the understanding of affect techniques employed by IS can ameliorate the development of deradicalization and prevention campaigns. In the current state of this research I have identified 2 themes within IS’s self-representational photographs: Heroization of Fighters and Allegorization of Women.

The first theme plays on notions of IS fighters’ bravery, strength and heroism. Whereas, the visuals representing women exclude any depiction of women; instead, these visuals are of elements reinforcing the expected behavior to construct devout women, who are subordinates to IS fighters.

I can so far conclude that IS manipulates preconceived ideas of heroes, Hollywood and shooter video game styles, elements of Islam, Islamic traditions and identity. The understanding of the visual rhetorics violent extremist groups adopt could be an important step to effectively assist in developing designs for counter-narratives and radicalization prevention activities.

MA Design

Kunstgattung: Design Research

Mentorat Praxis:
Arne Scheuermann


Theoretische Thesis

Visual Techniques for Counter-Jihadi Narratives, MA Design Research 2020

MA Design