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Friday, November 9, 2012

Panel Discussion/ Book Launch "Demystifying the Motivations and Priorities of Contemporary Islamist Militancy and Jihadi Groups"

Nov. 12: Al-Qaeda and Sacrifice - Book Launch / Panel Discussion

It is very hard to critique jihadism and develop critical analytical
questions for terrorists when our knowledge about the jihadi worldview is
mediated by the government and the news media. What are these people all

Panel Discussion/ Book Launch
"Demystifying the Motivations and Priorities of Contemporary Islamist
Militancy and Jihadi Groups"

Paul Martin Centre
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Monday, November 12, 2012 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm


Melissa Finn, Ph.D., Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Wilfrid
Laurier University, Canada

Chris Anzalone, Ph.D. Candidate, Teaching Fellow, Institute for Islamic
Studies, McGill University, Canada

Theme 1: Narratives of Martyrdom
7:00- 7:15 pm: "The Logic of Martyrdom" (Melissa Finn)

Pervasive and largely under-examined references to the descriptor sine qua
non of jihadi violence, 'suicide bombing', reveals more about western
readings of jihadi violence than it does about the actual intents,
motivations, contexts, conceptual bases, and parameters of jihadi
Etymological analysis of words for 'sacrifice' in Arabic and their use in
jihadi and Islamist discourses reveals much about the logic behind the
"martyrdom" operation.

7:15- 7:30 pm: "The Martyr and Mujahid: Narratives and Aesthetics of Jihad
and Martyrdom in Jihadi Discourses" (Chris Anzalone)

Contemporary jihadi discourses on martyrdom and "striving" (jihad) in God's
path are rich and multilayered, drawing upon classical Islamic religious
texts and literary traditions while also adapting and interpreting them to
fit modern conflicts and ideological needs. Images of the martyr and the
mujahid in these discourses mix themes of honor, heroism, fatalism, piety,
and even romance to create a complex discourse of struggle, enduring
hardships, and self-sacrifice that is today presented in a multitude of
different communicative forms, aural, visual, and textual.

Theme 2: The Political Priorities of Jihadis
7:30- 7:45 pm: "The Parameters of Sacrificial Subjectivity and the Political
Priorities of the Sacrificial Subject" (Melissa Finn)

There are many theories about why the soldier-martyr evokes such a strong
response in people. Here, it is argued that enigmatic and controversial
character of the "martyrdom" operation lies in the way the soldier-martyr
inhabits, inhibits, and ruptures different Islamic norms. The parameters
sacrificial subjectivity involve devotion and challenge towards central
principles of Islamic ethics. How does the sacrificial subject understand
him/herself and how might comparative political theory unearth and explain
this subjectivity? These are the central questions of this presentation.

7:45- 8:00 pm: "Insurgent 'Justice': Al-Shabab's Conception of Law, Order,
and Economics in Somalia" (Chris Anzalone)

Al-Shabab, which began to acquire territory rapidly by the end of 2008 into
2009, placed the establishment of law and order at the top of its list of
priorities, particularly in important economic centers such as the port
cities of Kismaayo and Merca. Thus far, little research attention has
paid to the wealth of insurgent primary sources in sketching out how
Al-Shabab itself conceives of law and order, and how this conception is
intimately tied to economic concerns.

8:00- 8:30 pm: Q&A Session

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