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Finding Allies for the War of Words

PI: Mark Woodward, Arizona State University

Year selected for award: 2009

Finding Allies for the War of Words: Mapping the Diffusion and Influence of Counter-Radical Muslim Discourse

Principal Investigator: Mark Woodward, Arizona State University

Co-Investigators: Steven Corman, Hasan Davulcu, Thomas Taylor (ASU); David Jacobson (University of South Florida); M. Sani Umar (Northwestern); Riva Kastoryano (Sciences-Po)

Years of Award: 2009 - 2014

Managing Service Agency: Office of Naval Research

Project Description:

This project redressed deficiencies in our understanding of Muslim-led efforts to combat extremism by tracking and analyzing publicly observable formal networks and diffused networks operating under the radar screen, with the aim of producing a comprehensive picture of ideas, actors, vehicles, and links of counter-radicalism. The project explored the spectrum of social, religious, and political characteristics of these networks across three critical regions—Southeast Asia, West Africa, and Western Europe—focusing on ideological and religious content and dissemination of ideas. Issues addressed include: the social location and political environments of discourse producers and consumers; relations to radical discourse; institutions and affiliations (local to transnational) that disseminate counter-radical messages; media used; the roles of local and global conflicts in their formulation; and Islamic sources on which counter-radical discourse is based.

The project employed an interdisciplinary methodology that brought together a broad range of expertise and disciplinary approaches—Islamic and area studies; textual studies; field research and discourse analysis; and computer science and mathematics—to uncover and model patterns of counter-radical discourse at the local, regional, and global level. The project combined discourse analysis, ethnographic field research, survey research, and data mining and mapping to produce 48 peer-reviewed articles, 3 books, 7 book chapters, and 1  patent for a digital tool (LookingGlass) that provides real-time contextual analysis of the ideological drivers of violent and counter-violent extremist movements and other socio-political conflicts.

Owl in the Olive Tree posts:

Woodward, Mark and Sani Umar, Muhammad. 2019. Culture as Counter Extremism: West African, European, and Southeast Asian Cases. July 9.

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