University of Konstanz
Graduiertenkolleg / PhD Program
Computer and Information Science

Colloquium of the Department and the PhD Program


Text Analysis of Islamist Extremists' Use of Stories


Prof. Dr. Steven Corman, Arizona State University
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

date & place

Wednesday, 16.06.2010, 16:15 h
Room C 252


It is well known that Islamist extremist groups use sophisticated appeals to convince their target audiences to support their efforts, either directly by joining and fighting for their organizations, or indirectly by providing financial or moral support. One prominent persuasive technique is the use of stories to establish a desire based in conflict. These stories establish an idealized narrative trajectory for satisfaction of that desire, which aligns with their goals.

Despite the importance of stories in extremist strategic communication, there has been little systematic, academic study of this subject. To address this problem, the Consortium for Strategic Communication has received a grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research to study extremists' use of stories in contested populations of Southeast Asia, North Africa and Southern Europe, and the Middle East.

This presentation describes a collaboration with members of the Graduiertenkolleg Explorative Analysis and Visualization of Large Information Spaces at the University of Konstanz to study extremist stories using computational linguistics and network analysis methods. It describes the overall research problem, then outlines efforts to Preliminary results from this research-in-progress are presented, and its problems and opportunities are discussed.