Harout Akdedian: On Violence and Radical Theology in the Syrian War

August 22, 2019

SFM Senior Research Fellow Dr Harout Akdedian publishes "On Violence and Radical Theology in the Syrian War: The Instrumentality of Spectacular Violence and Exclusionary Practices from Comparative and Local Standpoints" in the Journal of Politics, Religion & Ideology.

The essay analyzes the instrumentality of two modalities of violence, spectacular violence and exclusionary practices, as exhibited by radicalized groups in Syria. These two modalities, in their behavioral and discursive expressions, are instrumental for establishing territorial control, consolidating power, and reconfiguring communal solidarities. The paper therefore explores radical theology, the discursive frame that accompanies these violent practices, as a political rather than a religious or theological matter. The functions of violent practices are examined based on similar practices found elsewhere and through local narratives and responses from the Syrian context. The paper concludes that radicalized groups in Syria operate with the understanding that their ‘Islamic’ community does not in fact exist and its production requires exaggerated and magnified violence aimed at radical socio-political reconfiguration of a context that is otherwise in sharp contrast with their imagined community. While comparative studies highlight the terrifying potential of their measures, the field data collected from 2011 until 2014 points out their limitations.