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Multimodal Recontextualisations of Violent Extremist Discourse

The aim is to develop a mixed methods approach for integrating qualitative methods of multimodal discourse analysis with quantitative methods of data mining and information visualisation to study discourse patterns in large datasets of multimodal texts, in this case in the field of violent extremism. The Islamic State and their online magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah are chosen for this purpose. In this project, we develop a framework for categorising the images and article types in Dabiq and Rumiyah. Following this, we use an interactive visualisation application (a) to investigate how the images, article types and their combinations in Dabiq and Rumiyah change over time, and (b) to trace recontextualised images imported into the two ISIS magazines and recontextualisations of images from the two magazines in different media. The results reveal that ISIS adapt their propaganda materials in accordance with their own agenda, activities, and practices (e.g. through visual icons and article types), and that images from Dabiq and Rumiyah are used to both support and resist terrorism across a wide variety of media platforms. Current work involves developing digital techniques for automated analysis of images in ISIS materials and other media in which the images appear (e.g. social media, news websites). A specific focus of this work is the meaning that arises from the text and image relations.

Recent Project Publications

  1. Wignell, P., O’Halloran, K. L., and Tan, S. (2018 in press). Image and Text Relations in ISIS Materials and the New Relations Established through Recontextualisation In Online Media. Discourse & Communication. 12(5).
  2. Tan, S., O’Halloran, K. L., Wignell, P., Chai, K. & Lange, R. (2018). A Multimodal Mixed Methods Approach for Examining Recontextualisation Patterns of Violent Extremist Images in Online Media. Discourse, Context and Media. 21: 18-35.
  3. Wignell, P., Tan, S., O’Halloran, K. L. & Lange, R. (2017). A Mixed Methods Empirical Examination of Changes in Emphasis and Style in the Extremist Magazines Dabiq and RumiyahPerspectives on Terrorism. 11(2). Retrieved from
  4. Wignell, P., Tan, S. & O’Halloran, K. L. (2017). Under the Shade of AK47s: A Multimodal Approach to Violent Extremist Recruitment Strategies for Foreign Fighters. Critical Studies on Terrorism. DOI: 10.1080/17539153.2017.1319319.
  5. O’Halloran, K. L., Tan, S., Wignell, P. & R. Lange (2017). Multimodal Recontextualisations of Images in Violent Extremist Discourse. In S. Zhao, E. Djonov, A. Björkvall & M. Boeriis (eds), The Art of Multimodality: Social Semiotic and Discourse Research in Honour of Theo van Leeuwen. New York & London: Routledge. 181-202.
  6. O’Halloran, K. L., Tan, S., Wignell, P., Bateman, J., Pham, D.-S., Grossman, M. & Vande Moere, A. (2016). Interpreting Text and Image Relations in Violent Extremist Discourse: A Mixed Methods Approach for Big Data Analytics. Terrorism and Political Violence. DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2016.1233871.
  7. Wignell, P., Tan, S. & O’Halloran, K. L. (2016). Violent Extremism and Iconisation: Commanding Good and Forbidding Evil? Critical Discourse Studies. DOI: 1080/17405904.2016.1250652.
  8. O’Halloran, K. L., Tan, S., Pham, D.-S., Bateman, J., & Vande Moere, A. (2016). A Digital Mixed Methods Research Design: Integrating Multimodal Analysis with Data Mining and Information Visualization for Big Data Analytics. Journal of Mixed Methods Research. DOI: 10.1177/1558689816651015.