Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)

Chatting about marriage with female migrants to Syria

6 June 2016

For some time now reports have appeared in the media about women leaving for Syria, either as ‘jihadi brides’ or as militant activists. In their anarrative in 'Anthropology Today' Aysha Navest, Martijn de Koning and Annelies Moors shift the focus from security issues to marriage, and work with online material using private chatting rather than public posts.

The increasing number of women migrating to Syria from Europe has not only drawn the attention of the media and the security forces but also of researchers. Publications often either undervalue or overvalue women's agency, presenting them as victims of unscrupulous men or foregrounding their militant activism. As many authors work in the field of radicalisation and terrorism studies and use public online posts, they focus on the more radical, activist women who are keen to present themselves to the world at large.

Navest, de Koning and Moors work with a different focus and employ a different method. Their interest in how these women arrange their marriages and their use of private chatting produces other kinds of knowledge. In contrast to what labels such as ‘jihadi brides’ suggest, the women themselves desire to live under IS rule, while IS increasingly regulates these marriages. Rather than desiring to become female fighters or recruiting others, they see themselves as responsible for domestic life and attempt to normalize life under IS rule.

Publication details

Navest, A., de Koning, M. and Moors, A. (2016), Chatting about marriage with female migrants to Syria, Anthropology Today, 32: 22–25. doi: 10.1111/1467-8322.12241

Published by  AISSR