Mara Revkin, PhD candidate in Political Science at Yale University, unveils the legal structure, recruitment, and media management of the infamous yet understudied so-called Islamic State (ISIS). As part of her research, she has conducted interviews with defectors and individuals who have escaped ISIS occupied territory. She has also interacted with active members. Revkin found that ISIS appeals to locals largely because it has been able to provide more consistent and universal justice in comparison to the Syrian and Iraqi governments. In the podcast, Revkin discusses the robust ISIS propaganda machine and the mechanism it uses to target local and international audiences.
Her research also decodes the state-building and governance of ISIS with nuance that separates her work from conventional depictions of the “lawless” “terrorist group”. Instead, she writes that ISIS aims to establish legitimacy, relying heavily on civilians for tax revenue, manpower, and intelligence. Under a kind of social contract, it provides its citizens with legal institutions, social welfare, and security. Nevertheless, its authoritarian and brutal rule is losing favor among its believers.
You can read more on Revkin's research here:
Production Assistant: Yishu Deng