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In order to move forward with our Phase 1 release of the new Minerva website, this is only a partial list of funded awards. Descriptions of all funded awards will be released throughout February.
Documenting the Virtual Caliphate project demonstrates the extent to which all propaganda coming out of the Islamic State is centralized through official channels. This means the propaganda messages are consistent, they are branded using the same template, the same font, and there is no message coming out of the Islamic State that is not vetted by their centralized agencies. This media strategy is remarkably similar to levels of control evident in many totalitarian regimes. (Photo by Mia Bloom)
The so-called Islamic State, ISIS, or Daesh has a compelling story, coupled with a sophisticated ability to deliver it. But often overlooked are the underlying strategic elements that enable the group to land its propaganda messages so effectively. This narrative combines both positive and negative themes appealing to ideological and political supporters inside the areas it controls in addition to outside supporters. On a daily basis, the group posts and publishes images of civilian life, expands upon the concept of Islamic forgiveness and mercy, and highlights the camaraderie allegedly felt among its members. Crucially, ISIS does not just do this online—propaganda is equally as important in person in the Islamic State’s heartlands as it is on its members’ laptops and smartphones.
ISIS propaganda, which is produced at an ever-increasing level of sophistication, has not yet been systematically logged and archived, either by governments, academia, or other think tanks. Distinct from all other studies of ISIS media, this project will produce an updated, searchable database for future research. Furthermore, the project bridges existing Minerva-sponsored research in that it takes current projects beyond their scope and provides a measure of evaluation, validation, and verification of other projects’ findings. The result will be a living archive of the entirety of ISIS’ official multimedia content, including a searchable database of ISIS propaganda that contains news bulletins, photo-reports, videos, and documents. The project will analyze ISIS’ propaganda, tactics and long-term strategies, both qualitatively and quantitatively.