Jihadis and food: A reading list

Anyone familiar with al-Qaida- or IS-related primary sources will have noticed the jihadi interest in – and occasional obsession with – food. Jihadi social media are full of
pictures of more or less tempting dishes prepared by militants in the field, and memoirs and propaganda videos
regularly depict militants cooking and eating. This phenomenon is particularly
conspicuous in recent Islamic State-related sources, so much so that mainstream
media have done a number of stories on it (see here,
or here).
Chris Anzalone has also posted a few examples on his (highly recommended!)
Tumblr here,
and here. As with other elements of jihadi culture, I think the foodways of militants is an overlooked topic of study that can tell us important things about life in the underground and the worldview of activists . 

I am going
to be posting more materials on jihadi culinary habits in the months ahead, but
first I want to take stock of the relevant academic literature, as I did for
other dimensions of jihadi culture such as dress, imagery, music, dreams, and poetry. This list is going to be very short, though, because I was not able to find many academic works on this topic at all. I
suspect that there are relevant passages on the foodways of jihadis and other
militants buried within books on broader topics, but I didn’t have the time to dig
those up.

In fact, I
didn’t find anything specifically on jihadis and food, but I did find the
following on the U.S.-based Islamist movement Nation of Islam:  

There also
appears to be a certain literature on food in Islam and in Islamic history;
some examples:

There is
also, not surprisingly, a large non-academic Islamic literature on food, which
is not without interest; see for example:

There is
also a substantial academic literature on food and religion more broadly, such

I couldn’t
find very much on the foodways of non-Islamist militants either, but there is a
literature on food in militaries and food in conflict, such as

The social
scientific study of food is by far the most developed in anthropology, where
there is a large literature and at least one journal
devoted specifically to food. Here are some of the most useful-looking items
from that literature:

This list
is bound to be incomplete, so if you know of any studies of the culinary habits of militants
– jihadi or non-jihadi – please send me an email or ping me on Twitter.


11 August: Alex Strick van Linschoten kindly alerted me to this:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s