Citation

Fighting in Foreign Lands: Narrative Identity and Political Imagination in ‘Foreign Fighters’’ Life Histories

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Abstract:

Combatants’ perspectives on the long term impact of conflict rarely feature in work on political violence. Existing literature tends to emphasise questions of mobilization, strategy, and organisation rather than lived experience. Hence, although increasingly urgent questions are being asked about returning ‘foreign fighters’, knowledge about the effects and experience of involvement in transnational conflict remains weak. This paper draws on the life history accounts of a small number of ‘foreign fighters’ who took part in jihad over the last 30 years; from Afghanistan in the 1990s to Libya in 2011. Former combatants’ life histories offer a rich source of material by which to understand why people move away from violence, what involvement in conflict means to them, and how these experiences influence the pattern of their lives. In exploring these issues with a focus on individual processes of sense-making, the paper examines what informs post-conflict trajectories. It does so by interpreting accounts of narrative identity in the context of wider collective political, religious, and ideological narratives, and in relation to the political imagination reflected in their life histories. Based on interviews with ‘foreign fighters’ involved in jihad this paper offers a rich, qualitative account of their memories of becoming involved, how disengagement and reintegration are subjectively experienced and recalled, what the longer-term biographical effects of involvement in political violence are, and how current selves interpret former selves.

Author's Keywords:

Terrorism, Conflict, Jihad, Foreign Fighters, Narrative Identity, Political Imagination
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Association:
Name: Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology
URL:
http://ispp.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1252915_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Marsden, Sarah. "Fighting in Foreign Lands: Narrative Identity and Political Imagination in ‘Foreign Fighters’’ Life Histories" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, The Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K., Jun 29, 2017 <Not Available>. 2018-06-19 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1252915_index.html>

APA Citation:

Marsden, S. , 2017-06-29 "Fighting in Foreign Lands: Narrative Identity and Political Imagination in ‘Foreign Fighters’’ Life Histories" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, The Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K. <Not Available>. 2018-06-19 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1252915_index.html

Publication Type: Paper (prepared oral presentation)
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Combatants’ perspectives on the long term impact of conflict rarely feature in work on political violence. Existing literature tends to emphasise questions of mobilization, strategy, and organisation rather than lived experience. Hence, although increasingly urgent questions are being asked about returning ‘foreign fighters’, knowledge about the effects and experience of involvement in transnational conflict remains weak. This paper draws on the life history accounts of a small number of ‘foreign fighters’ who took part in jihad over the last 30 years; from Afghanistan in the 1990s to Libya in 2011. Former combatants’ life histories offer a rich source of material by which to understand why people move away from violence, what involvement in conflict means to them, and how these experiences influence the pattern of their lives. In exploring these issues with a focus on individual processes of sense-making, the paper examines what informs post-conflict trajectories. It does so by interpreting accounts of narrative identity in the context of wider collective political, religious, and ideological narratives, and in relation to the political imagination reflected in their life histories. Based on interviews with ‘foreign fighters’ involved in jihad this paper offers a rich, qualitative account of their memories of becoming involved, how disengagement and reintegration are subjectively experienced and recalled, what the longer-term biographical effects of involvement in political violence are, and how current selves interpret former selves.


Similar Titles:
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