News & events


The Islamic State: Global Coloniality and the Quest for an Alternative Islamic Future

05 November 2015
12:30 - 13:30


Nkululeko Majozi,
Masters Researcher
(HSRC) (DGSD) / MA Student (UP)

Date:  5 November

12:30  – 13:30

   VCRs, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

The recent rise of the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East as an important actor in the region and in global political affairs has been a source of much debate in the ambit of security and strategic affairs. Western governments (led by the United States), the media and various academics and think-tanks around the world have been at pains to formulate a clear understanding of IS and its project in the Middle East in order to fashion a strategic response that would lead to the defeat of IS and the restoration of peace and stability in the region. 

As such, Western governments, the media, and security studies scholars alike have grappled with the fundamental questions of security that IS presents, namely: what type of an actor is the Islamic State in the international system? What type of security challenges does it present? And what are the best (strategic) ways of dealing with it?
In discussing these issues, the presenter will interrogate mainstream views that seek to conceptualise the Islamic State as nothing more than a terrorist group. In contrast, the presenter will argue that the Islamic State is a revolutionary formation representing a rejection of the pre-eminence of the global coloniality of power in the international system. That is, IS stands as a political movement revolting against the heterogeneous systems of dominance to be found in the current global system of governance, which put the US and Europe at the centre of the modern world system. IS represents a desire shared by all global jihadist groups for an alternative Muslim or Islamic future unencumbered by Eurocentric systems of social, political, economic, and spiritual dominance. The rise of the Islamic State is therefore symptomatic of the failure of the mechanism of the Westphalian state in the Middle East and the Global South in general as a tool for political governance.
Furthermore, the presenter will contend that attempts to conceptualise the Islamic State as a mere ‘terrorist’ group reveal a cognitive confinement rooted in Euro-North American-centric theoretical understandings, both traditional and critical, of the concept of security. These Euro-North American-centric theoretical frameworks of security produce an understanding of security which is heavily reliant on histories and geographies which reproduce Eurocentric conceptions of world politics.

The seminar may be attended in Pretoria, Cape Town or Durban

RSVP by 4 November
Cape Town: Carmen August (021) 466 7827,   12th Floor, Plein Park Building, Plein Street, Cape Town
Durban: Ridhwaan Khan (031) 242 5400,   1st Floor, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor
Pretoria: Arlene Grossberg (012) 302 2811,  1st  Floor, HSRC Building, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria