This lecture will introduce audiences to the broader context from within which the movement currently known as the Islamic State emerged. Consequently, the lecture will draw on the literatures of three areas of inquiry in Middle East studies: political Islam and Islamist movements; state formation, regime-society relations, and state breakdown; and the international relations of the Middle East (with a focus on regional and international rivalries and interventions). The lecture will emphasize the emergence of the Islamic State within the post-2003 Iraqi context, its growth in the post-2011 Syrian context, and the current interplay between the Islamic State, regional regimes, and international powers. It will conclude with an assessment of the changing forms of organization, revenue generation, and political-military strategies the organization has utilized thus far. The lecture therefore presents both a theoretical and historical framework to make sense of the contemporary political sociology of the Islamic State. In doing so, the lecture will invariably engage with current representations and debates about the Islamic State in mainstream media and policy analysis networks.
Ziad Abu-Rish is an assistant professor in the Department of History and director of the Middle East and North Africa Studies Program at Ohio University. His research interests focus on state formation, economic development, and social mobilization, with an emphasis on the mid-twentieth-century Levant. Abu-Rish earned his PhD from the Department of History at the University of California Los Angeles, and his MA in Arab Studies from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. He- serves on the editorial teams of the Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya Ezine. His publications include the co-edited volume, The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of an Old Order? (Pluto Press, 2012) and as well as a number of print and online articles. Abu-Rish is currently completing a book manuscript on debates and struggles in post-independence Lebanon around the question of economic development.