ISIS/Daesh, the terror group which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq, differs from its predecessors in the prominence of a variety of gendered and sexualized practices in its distinct identity. In addition to familiar and widespread forms of sexualized violence (rape, shaming, shame killing, regulation of women’s access to public space), emergent fields such as the online and diaspora recruitment of "jihadi brides," women’s police brigades, the ritualized murder of gay men, and the doctrinal defense of sexual slavery are part of what distinguishes ISIS/Daesh from al-Qaeda. How do these high profile weaponizations of sexuality work to produce a state-oid entity that was able to expand rapidly from 2014 to the present?
Leila Hudson is an Associate Professor at the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan’s Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History, she researches and teaches on culture and political economy in the Arab world. She is the author of Transforming Damascus: Space and Modernity in an Islamic City, Middle Eastern Humanities: An Introduction to Cultures, co-editor of Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring as well as articles on gender, culture, power, and knowledge in the Ottoman and contemporary Middle East. She is currently working on an ethnography of the Syrian migration, and her next project is tentatively entitled Genealogies of ISIS.