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ISIS and the Pornography of Violence

ISIS and the Pornography of Violence

By Simon Cottee

‘ISIS and the Pornography of Violence’ is a collection of iconoclastic essays on ISIS, spanning the four-year period from its ascendancy in late 2014 to its demise in early 2018.

Paperback, 186 Pages


May 2019

£22.95, $29.95

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About This Book

‘ISIS and the Pornography of Violence’ is a collection of iconoclastic essays on ISIS, spanning the four-year period from its ascendancy in late 2014 to its demise in early 2018. From a trenchant critique of the infantilisation of jihadists to a probing examination of the parallels between gonzo porn and ISIS beheading videos, the pieces collected in this volume challenge conventional ways of thinking about ISIS and the roots of its appeal. Simon Cottee’s core argument is that Western ISIS recruits, far from being brainwashed or ‘vulnerable’ dupes, actively responded to the group’s promise of redemptive violence and self-sacrifice to a total cause.

Radicalization, Cottee argues, is a murky and complex process that cannot be reduced to any single explanatory scheme or thesis. He also documents the emergence of a new kind of ‘liquid jihad’ in the West, where involvement in jihadism reflects more a process of drift than any full ideological conversion, and where commitment, often fragile, is sustained by social networks.


“ISIS and the Pornography of Violence is a compilation of Simon Cottee’s extensive repertoire of stories and reporting on ISIS from 2014 to 2018, with particular focus on ISIS videos, motivations and propaganda. It challenges well-worn concepts and provides a breath of fresh air to the study of ISIS terrorism.”
—Mia Bloom, Professor of Communication and Middle East Studies, Georgia State University, USA

Author Information

Simon Cottee is a senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Kent, UK, and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He is the author of The Apostates: When Muslims Leave Islam (2015) and the coeditor of Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left (2008). Cottee is a regular contributor to the New York Times, Foreign Policy, the Los Angeles Times, the National Post and Vice, and a contributing editor of the journal, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism.


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Table of Contents

Foreword; 1. Theorizing ISIS: The Meaning and Appeal of Jihadist Violence; 2. How Not to Think about ISIS; 3. Watching ISIS: The Theatre of Horror Credits; Notes; Index.

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