The Map and Territory in Political Islam: Spatial Ideology and the Teaching of Geography by the Islamic State

  • Matthieu CiminoEmail author
Part of the Mobility & Politics book series (MPP)


Since the advent of the Islamic State (Dā’ish) in 2014, very few works have sought to question the territorial ideology and spatial representations which underlie its political imagination. Even if the movement has engaged—with considerable celerity—in a massive enterprise of conquest, neither its leaders nor the ideology itself has adequately communicated how it represents and categorizes this territory and, more broadly, the territory. Thus, how does ISIS project its conception of the world around it in terms of spatial reality? What do the notions of space, territory, and boundary(ies) mean for a transnational movement whose transcendent ideology calls for the unity of an Umma based on the denial of belonging to any traditional ethnic, racial, or national group? Based on the analysis of hundreds of propaganda documents produced by Dā’ish between 2015 and 2016, this paper will explore ISIS’s territorial ideology, as well as its strategy to symbolically represent its imaginary borders and disseminate it via its “Ministry of Education” (diwān at-ta’līm). By studying the fascicles and “official” school textbooks, including dozens of volumes on geography, this chapter will also provide a historical reflection on the interaction between space(s), border(s), and territory(ies) in the contemporary Arab world.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.OxfordUK

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