A social semiotics analysis of Islamic State's use of beheadings: Images of power, masculinity, spectacle and propaganda

Despite their predominant role in terrorist practices, beheadings have not received sufficient theoretical or empirical attention. The aim of this paper is to explore images of executions by employing social semiotics theory and visual analysis and assess their function. Beheadings by the Islamic St...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:International journal of law, crime and justice
Main Author: Impara, Elisa (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2018
In:International journal of law, crime and justice
Year: 2018, Volume: 53, Pages: 25-45
Online Access: Resolving-System
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Summary:Despite their predominant role in terrorist practices, beheadings have not received sufficient theoretical or empirical attention. The aim of this paper is to explore images of executions by employing social semiotics theory and visual analysis and assess their function. Beheadings by the Islamic State will be employed as an example of spectacular violence. Decapitation will be discussed as a theatrical strategy that attempts to legitimise the Islamic State (and its political project) and to impact upon recruitment of new militants: this is achieved not only by causing material damage, but also by triggering more mundane sentiments in young people who may be more inclined to be attracted to extremist discourses.
DOI:10.1016/j.ijlcj.2018.02.002