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Matthieu Cimino

University of Oxford
Thinking Territories and Education into the Islamic State
01 September 2019 -
30 June 2020
Political science

Matthieu Cimino, an Arabist historian and political scientist, teaches at the Collège universitaire de Sciences Po, Paris (Euro-Mediterranean campus in Menton) and at the Panthéon Sorbonne University. He was a Marie Curie fellow at Oxford University (Oriental Institute & St Antony's College, 2016-2018) and a post-doctoral researcher at Tel-Aviv University (Moshe Dayan Centre, 2015). His research focuses on the contemporary history of the Near and Middle East. His latest collective work, Syria: Borders, Boundaries, and the State (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019) explores the material and symbolic reconfigurations of Syrian borders since the 2011 revolution.

Research Interests 

Contemporary history of Israel, Syria and Lebanon; border recompositions in the Near and Middle East; dynamics of engagement and disengagement from conflicts; identities and communities in the Levant.

Thinking Territories and Education of the Islamic State

Since the emergence of the "Islamic State" (IS) organization, research in the human and social sciences has only very partially focused on the collective imagination of the jihadist movement and, more specifically, on its spatial ideology. In response to the wave of attacks perpetrated in Europe since 2015 and a strong demand from civil society, researchers and journalists have focused on studying the phenomena of "radicalisation" or "radicality" in Europe, neglecting, voluntarily or not, many aspects of Daech's ideological system.
However, the spatial variable plays a considerable role in the development of the collective imagination promoted and disseminated by the terrorist group, which calls for the restoration of a "caliphate", a territorialized structure that has accompanied most Islamic empires since the death of Mohammed (632) until the fall of the Ottoman Empire (1920). The objective of this research project is therefore to explore how IS represents the world. How does the group think about space and territory? What are its mapping production and dissemination strategies? To explore these issues, this research will be based on several thousand maps, school books and archival documents collected between 2016 and 2018.


Contemporary period (1789-…)
North Africa, Middle East