Alex Thurston is Assistant Professor of Teaching in the African Studies Program at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He specializes in the study of Islam and politics in West Africa and North Africa. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Northwestern University and an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown. In 2013-2014, he was an International Affairs Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations.


Project Summary

Prevailing explanations for the rise of jihadism tend to caricature jihadists as nihilistic opportunists, uncompromising fanatics, or outright psychopaths. This book project proposes a different understanding, showing that jihadists devote substantial attention to both religious argumentation and local politics. The project addresses the recent history, doctrinal content, and local political contexts of jihadism in Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, and Libya. Drawing on a wealth of untapped primary sources in Arabic, the project examines Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its many offshoots, as well as North African affiliates of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). The book’s findings will have implications for the study of religion and violence around the world.


Major Publications