Two articles: militant use of YouTube, and Tony Abbott’s “death cult” rhetoric

Two new journal articles by my Monash colleagues. Enjoy!


Pete Lentini, “Demonizing ISIL and Defending Muslims: Australian Muslim Citizenship and Tony Abbott’s ‘Death Cult’ Rhetoric“, Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations, Volume 26, Issue 2, 2015


In the lead-up to Australia committing military resources and personnel to the coalition opposing the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL), Prime Minister Tony Abbott consistently categorized the al-Qaeda splinter group as a “death cult.” Examining Abbott’s official rhetoric on ISIL and the threat it poses to Australia and the world, this article argues that his use of the term “death cult” reflects patterns in Western political demonology and demonizing enemies, namely, creating adversaries as monsters by highlighting the atrocities they commit in order to garner support for (often lethal) actions against them. In traditional political demonology, establishment representatives often target minority or marginal groups as these pariahs. However, in demonizing ISIL, Abbott deliberately made distinctions between it and its members and the majority of Muslims, including Australian Muslims, and utilized political demonology differently. In so doing, he affirmed this religious minority’s status within the parameters of Australian citizenship. This is indeed commendable. However, Abbott rarely mentioned Muslims outside of references to terrorism. Despite the fact that Abbott acknowledges that only a comparative handful of Muslims are indeed violent, he has not yet fully engaged with the broader notions of Australian Muslims’ contributions to Australian society and their citizenship.


Matteo Vergani and Dennis Zuevb, “Neojihadist Visual Politics: Comparing YouTube Videos of North Caucasus and Uyghur Militants“, Asian Studies Review, Volume 39, Issue 1, 2015


YouTube videos offer a rare opportunity to gain an insight into the sequestered world of neojihadism. This study examines and compares the lines of the visual narrative associated with two Asian insurgencies that help to form the global Islamic social movement: the insurgency in Chechnya (North Caucasus) and that in Xinjiang (China). The purpose of the article is to describe the narratives used by the Islamic militants addressing the conflict and to identify similarities and differences in the use of visual rhetorical techniques by neojihadist groups to propagate their worldview. The study of the visual narratives promoted in the videos will help to provide a better understanding of the impact of the neojihadist narratives on the creation of collective identities. Our findings suggest that these narratives have similar features, which can be identified in a set of sub-narratives. Within the common pattern, however, significant differences can be found, especially in the interpretation of the videos by the audiences.

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