Tribes and Global Jihadism

Edited by
December 2017 9781849048156 200pp
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Across the Muslim world, from Iraq and Yemen, to Egypt and the Sahel, new alliances have been forged between the latest wave of violent Islamist groups –– including Islamic State and Boko Haram –– and local tribes. But can one now speak of a direct link between tribalism and jihadism, and how analytically useful might it be?

Tribes are traditionally thought to resist all encroachments upon their sovereignty, whether by the state or other local actors, from below; yet by joining global organisations such as Islamic State, are they not rejecting the idea of the state from above? This triangular relationship is key to understanding instances of mass ‘radicalisation’, when entire communities forge alliances with jihadi groups, for reasons of self-interest, self-preservation or religious fervour. If Algeria’s FIS or Turkey’s AKP once represented the ‘Islamisation of nationalism’, have we now entered a new era, that of the ‘tribalisation of globalisation’?


‘A welcome contribution to the comparative study of tribes and tribalism in the Arab Muslim world . . . Tribes and Global Jihadism is a rewarding example of a carefully edited book. The individual contributions cover complicated and controversial subjects in a clear, concise and readable fashion.’ — International Affairs

Tribes and Global Jihadism adds colour and complexity to the usual binary ‘answers’ that have come to define the relationship between tribes and jihadist groups.’ — Middle East Monitor

‘Virginie Collombier and Olivier Roy have gathered some of the best specialists to study the complexity of the relationship between the tribal world and global jihadism. The result is a fascinating work combining comparative approach, field studies and innovative analysis, from Cameroon to Afghanistan.’ — Jean-Pierre Filiu, Professor of Middle East Studies at Sciences Po; author of From Deep State to Islamic State and Gaza: A History

Tribes and Global Jihadism offers a fine-grained yet wide-ranging analysis of the complex relationships between tribes and the various facets of global jihadism. Absorbing case studies by country experts offer fascinating insights into what shapes these interactions, making this book a must-read for those interested in the local and global dynamics of jihad.’ — Sarah Marsden, Lecturer in Radicalisation and Protest in a Digital Age at Lancaster University; author of Reintegrating Extremists: ‘Deradicalisation’ and Desistance

‘An exceptional volume, shedding light on a contemporary puzzle: the intersection of tribes, transnational Salafism, and jihadism. The contributors authoritatively argue that these connections are defining but not pre-ordained or uniform, and offer the captivating point that while jihadists can manipulate tribalism, they cannot eliminate it.’ — James Piscatori, Deputy Director at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, Australian National University; co-author of Muslim Politics


Olivier Roy is Professor at the European University Institute in Florence. Six of his highly acclaimed books on religion and politics are published by Hurst, including Globalised Islam; Jihad and Death; Holy Ignorance; and Is Europe Christian?

Virginie Collombier is Professor of Practice at Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome. She has led several projects combining research and mediation in Libya.

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