Date of Thesis



ISIS is not just the "new face" of Salafi jihadism. It is a new breed of extremism, with elements from previous fundamentalist movements but also with an infusion of both modernist and post-colonial influences that make it more properly understood as a "reactionary modernist" movement. The failure to properly conceptualize it as such is a retardant on our ability to properly understand this group. This attempt to correct this misunderstanding is thus of extraordinary necessity. Additionally, the implications of ISIS's rise run deeper that is commonly realized. The same factors that gave birth to ISIS are likely to manifest themselves in different forms across the world over the next few decades. These conditions will be fertile soil for the rise of other reactionary modernist organizations, and so the necessity of understanding this unique type of movement is essentially to understanding what the landscape of the future will look like in years to come. Finally, the concept of "reactionary modernism" itself shall be critiqued, and a deeper, more insightful classification will be attempted. The final conclusion is that ISIS constitutes a form of "Cyberpunk Dark Romanticism", a tech-savvy movement rebelling against established social orders and infused with a heavy emphasis on sin and death and the end of the world.


ISIS, Romanticism, Dark Romanticism, Cyberpunk, Cyberpunk Dark Romanticism, Reactionary Modernism, Modernism, Ideology, Post-Colonial

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts


Comparative Humanities

First Advisor

James M. Shields