Critical Analysis of Islamic State Social Media

In this project, we lay bare the narrative and linguistic structures of Islamic State (IS) propaganda videos on social media. Our researchers conduct a critical analysis of how notions of utopia and dystopia are depicted by IS and compare these to historical Nazi propaganda. We also provide English and French translations of the monologues used in these videos to enable the broader public to better contextualize  the post-apocalyptic rhetoric being used by the IS extremists.

Dire Dieu par la musique dans la propagande guerrière d’hier à aujourd’hui: Le cas de l’Empire assyrien et de Daech

By Éric Bellavance and Vivek Venkatesh

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Director of Project Someone as well as the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance at Concordia and UNESCO Co-Chair for the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism, Vivek Venkatesh, and colleagues, examine aspects of propaganda in ISIS videos. Other Project Someone members co-authoring this article are Jeffrey Podoshen, Jason Wallin and Jihan Rabah.

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Jeff Podoshen talks about hate speech, freedom of expression, and IS on social media.

Jihan Raban talks about hate speech, freedom of expression, and building resilience to propaganda.


Terrorism and Propaganda: A Critical Analysis of ISIS Social Media

Through the use of discourse analysis, this podcast explores the terrorist propaganda inherent in five social media videos created and disseminated by ISIS in 2015. Terrorist groups, such as ISIS, as well as others, have long been utilizing social media to recruit youth; we need to identify, address and combat the propaganda they are disseminating. Key features of the narratives being propagated include different ways ISIS terrorists articulate and use religious scriptures to back up and defend their hypotheses and their violence. It also includes the adept use of technology, music, and cinematography to instill fear. Only by grounding the analysis of propaganda in the investigation of the discourses inherent in these videos, will we be able to create an alternative narrative to battle the deleterious impacts of these brutal messages.

Please contact to request copies of the English or French translations of the narrative in the social media videos.



Jeff Podoshen PhD

Jeff Podoshen is Associate Professor in the department of Business, Organizations and Society at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, USA. One of the early pioneers of the use of netnography in social sciences research, Jeff utilizes a myriad of mixed method and cutting edge qualitative techniques to distill complex data into more easily defined categories that allows for greater introspection on specific subcultures.

Vivek Venkatesh PhD

Vivek Venkatesh is UNESCO co-Chair in Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism, and Professor of Inclusive Practices in Visual Arts in the Department of Art Education at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University. He is an interdisciplinary and applied learning scientist who investigates the psychological, cultural and cognitive factors impacting the design, development and inclusive adoption of digital media in educational and social contexts.
Jihan Rabah PhD

Jihan Rabah is an analyst and educational development leader. Her recent professional experiences include being Vice President of Research and Analysis at eConcordia/ KnowledgeOne Inc, Co-Principal Investigator of Project SOMEONE, and a member of the UNESCO Chair on the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism. 


Dire Dieu par la musique dans la propagande guerrière d’hier à aujourd’hui: Le cas de l’Empire assyrien et de Daech

Éric Bellavance and Vivek Venkatesh

Between 2014 and 2016, a series of videos released by Daesh on the Internet show the looting, ransacking and destruction of vestiges of the Neo-Assyrian empire, which dominated the Middle East between the xth and the viith century BC. These videos which promotes a jihadist-Salafist ideology consist of recordings of the armed group destroying pre-Islamic relics and murdering alleged traitors. The visuals are accompanied by a cappella songs, known as anachids. This article focuses on the role of music in Assyrian propaganda, since, ironically, the Assyrians were the first to use music in their religious and military propaganda. In a second step, the musical and lyrical narratives that accompany these Daesh videos are analyzed to better understand the role this medium plays in specific theological discourses of the armed group. We use an interdisciplinary approach with theories developed in the fields of social psychology, marketing, consumer culture and postmodern philosophy. Our analyses provide insight into how the destruction of places belonging to the pre-Islamic past of modern Iraq, the hyper-violence associated with the murders of alleged traitors and the morbid consumption of dystopias interact with the concepts of religion, blasphemy and social policy.


Promoting Extreme Violence: Visual and Narrative Analysis of Select Ultraviolent Terror Propaganda Videos Produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2015 and 2016

Venkatesh, V., Podoshen, J.S., Wallin, J., Rabah, J., & Glass, D.

This paper examines aspects of violent, traumatic terrorist video propaganda produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) within the theoretical confines of abjection and the use of utopian/dystopian themes. These themes have been present in a number of studies that have examined consumption of the dark dystopic variety. We seek to elucidate on the use of specific techniques and narratives that are relatively new to the global propaganda consumerspace and that relate to horrific violence. Our work here is centered on interpretative analysis and theory building that we believe can assist in understanding and interpreting post-apocalyptic and abject-oriented campaigns in the age of social media and rapid transmission of multimedia communications. In the present analysis, we examine eight ISIS videos created and released in 2015 and 2016. All of the videos chosen for analysis have utilized techniques related to abjection, shock, and horror, often culminating in the filming of the murder of ISIS’s enemies or place-based destruction of holy sites in the Middle East. We use inductive content analytic techniques in the contexts of consumer culture, “cinemas of attraction,” and pornography of violence to propose an extension of existing frameworks of terrorism and propaganda theory.