Militants without Borders: understanding Shia militancy and recruitment in era of globalization


The rise of ISIS and the question of radicalization have become a focus of academics and statesmen in recent years. This new focus has neglected to ask how Shi’i resistance movements in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and now Afghanistan have mobilized and organized themselves during the conflict against ISIS. The Shi’i resistance movements from these regions embody and represent Shi’i religiosity to recruit militants and ensure longevity of their movements. These movements sustain themselves through intense ideological, cultural and military collaborations which are largely inspired by Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been successful in propagating the culture of religious-militancy through its paramilitary and parastatal organizations since the revolution in 1979. Now, Iranian culture of Shi’i militancy has reached fruition after more than three decades since the revolution. It has successfully encouraged the model of ‘perfect Shi’i’ among the religiously committed and marginalized Shi’i youth in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. This model has become a suitable example of how ideological flows and trends form what I call ideoscope. This scope become a mode of protection which encircles around certain groups as they form resistance against the larger global and regional flows or what Apparadui has famously called ‘ideoscapes’ (1990). This ideoscope should be seen as a mode of Iranianization of Shi’i practices that spreads through conflicts and militancy. Therefore, I propose to explore cultural elements of Shi’i militancy by tracing how Iranian Shi’i militancy has taken conflict such as Civil war in Lebanon and Syria, rise and demise of ISISI in Iraq as opportunities to influence other forms of Shi’ism in the region.


Principal Investigators
Rehbein, Boike Prof. Dr. (Details) (Transformation Societies in Asia/Africa)

Duration of Project
Start date: 08/2018
End date: 12/2020

Last updated on 2021-08-02 at 23:05