Dr Seb Kaempf and A/Prof Andrew Phillips have received a research grant on the topic of 'What is the "Islamic State"?

21 Nov 2015

Congratulations to Dr Seb Kaempf and A/Prof Andrew Phillips who (together with Prof Herfried Muenkler and Dr Felix Wasserrmann at Humboldt University in Berlin) won a two-year grant for research collaboration on the timely topic of 'What is the "Islamic State"? Understanding the Network-State threat to open societies’.

Funded by the Universities Australia and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), this research project examines:

(1) the nature of insurgent network-states - exemplified by the Islamic State – as a new type of non-state violent actor in world politics
(2) investigates the specific threat IS poses to open multicultural societies.

Insurgent network-states are neither terrorist networks, nor are they territorially bounded sovereign states. Instead, they are hybrid actors, combining elements of both terrorist networks and sovereign states in historically new ways. They rely on globally dispersed networks of foreign fighters, finance, and materiel. But their leaders also assert control over particular territorial enclaves, and cultivate popular legitimacy by providing public services to populations within their control, as well as through more conventional guerrilla tactics of terror and ideological indoctrination.

Taking the IS as our primary case, we address four questions: (a) How can we explain the contemporary rise of insurgent network-states? (b) To what extent, if at all, do today’s insurgent network-states differ from guerrilla attempts at state-building in earlier historical epochs? (c) Precisely how do insurgent network-states threaten open multicultural societies in general, and Germany and Australia in particular? And (d) What strategies are likely to be most effective in neutralizing the insurgent network-state threat to open multicultural societies?