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Visuality and the ‘Jihadi-bride’ The re-fashioning of desire in the digital age


Journal Social IdentitiesJournal abstract

This paper examines the controversial figure of the ‘Jihadi Bride’ through her visual depictions in media discourses where she is associated with danger, conflict and the evil Other. Such depictions often draw heavily on the Orientalist gaze of the Middle East in conflict; its atavism, servitude of womanhood and the incongruence of religion for secular modernity. These media discourses equally draw on the imagination of the internet as a space for the loss of innocence and for luring the vulnerable into inexplicable darkness. This paper, by drawing on the concept of desire and its relationship to the screen as well as the concept of ‘new media visuality’ where pervasive consumption of imagery mediates reality and fantasy, as well as sexuality and the forbidden, argues that the Jihadi Bride is a product of modernity and not of doctrine. As a technological subject with an insatiable desire ignited through the screen, the Jihadi Bride is a consequence of modernity and its invocation of desire sustained through the screen. The Jihadi Bride is equally part of a mediated visuality where viral circulation and instant gratification reconfigure notions of proximity and intimacy, and straddles earthly desires with the ethereal.

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