Skip to main content

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


Critical Studies on TerrorismJournal 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.

You might also like: