Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

IS in Iraq and Syria: The Militant Subject

Dr Faisal Devji, University of Oxford

7 October 2014

Dr Faisal Devji

Dr Faisal Devji delivered his seminar to a packed room.


The Conflict, Security & International Order Cluster at POLIS was delighted to welcome Dr Faisal Devji to the University of Bath on 7 October 2014 to deliver the first cluster talk of the current academic year. The talk was entitled ‘The Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria: The Militant Subject.’ Dr Devji, who is Reader at St Antony’s College, Oxford, focused on examining the emergence of IS in Iraq and Syria and how this has changed the political landscape in the region and abroad.

The IS has hit the headlines several times since the kidnapping and subsequent beheading of the US journalist James Foley in August 2014. The recent spread of the organisation across the borders of Syria and Iraq has mobilised Western powers into targeting the region with airstrikes, whilst news from the field continue to report IS’s advances in these countries.

The recent focus on IS has resulted in an already enormous range of analytical studies, despite our still-limited knowledge of the group. These studies tend to focus on the organisation’s intentions, mobilisation and brutality. Dr Devji’s talk, on the other hand, addressed the formation of a militant subjectivity within IS. His main question focused on enquiring what can be inferred about such a subject from the pieces of information at our disposal, taking into account the context of militant Islam's ‘globalisation’ through al-Qaeda more than a decade ago. Dr Devji shed light on the group’s ontological features and sociological and cultural differences with previous organizations in the region such as Al Qaeda, and also defined its objectives.

The talk was very well attended by both staff and students of the University of Bath. The Q&A session afterwards gave the opportunity to the audience to interact directly with one of the most prominent scholars in the field.