Explaining ISIS/ISIL – a roundup of things to read

Between the lead-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and around 2008, I read extensively on what was happening in the country. I wrote several articles and chapters on the territorial, legal and constitutional issues, many of which were re-edited to form parts of my 2009 book Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty. (Most of the articles are available open access here.)

Due to other projects, I’ve only kept a partial eye on things since that time, with most of my reading coming from news-sites, good blogs (Juan Cole’s Informed Comment in particular), and some of the academic literature. (For one exception, see this 2010 analysis of a then-newly available document.) But I’ve not been reading in the same way I was before I finished the ‘war on terror’ book manuscript. Other contemporary topics – such as Boko Haram – have taken up more of my attention, alongside more historical and conceptual projects.

In recent days I’ve been trying to make more sense of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham – often rendered as ‘the Levant’, though the area meant is considerably larger, and sometimes translated as ‘Syria’, hence the use of two acronyms, of ISIS or ISIL. The group has become a major topic because of its rapid takeover of parts of Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, major cities such as Mosul, Tikrit, Fallujah have been taken over. Kurdish peshmerga forces have gained a long-wished for control of Kirkuk. The US is debating another round of intervention; Tony Blair is back on the news suggesting that the current situation is not the fault of the 2003 invasion and that it is rather due to lack of intervention in Syria; John McCain continues to add countries and causes to his wish-list of interventions.


These are some of the better things I’ve read – not that I agree with all in them, but they are useful guides to different positions being taken. Additions welcome in comments.

Update: thanks for these additional links.

This entry was posted in Boundaries, Politics, Territory, Terror and Territory. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Explaining ISIS/ISIL – a roundup of things to read

  1. Pingback: Top posts on Progressive Geographies this week | Progressive Geographies

  2. Pingback: Links on the Islamic State – from Burke to Esposito, and Rogers and Zizek | Progressive Geographies

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