Dr. Christoph Günther

Summer Semester 2016

Dr. Christoph Günther (formerly Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Research Group: Integration and Conflict, Halle/Saale; Post-Doc; since 2017 Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)

Host: Prof. Dr. Matthias Krings (Department of Ethnology)


Since 2017: own BMBF Junior Research Group at the Institute of Ethnology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.

For further information about the project: „Dschihadismus im Internet: Die Gestaltung von Bildern und Videos, ihre Aneignung und Verbreitung

Conference „Jihadi Audiovisualities“, 4.-5. Oktober 2018


Christoph Günther received his doctorate in 2013 at the University of Leipzig on the subject of A Second State in Mesopotamia? Genesis and ideology of the “Islamic State of Iraq”. His research interests include modern reform movements and political ideas in the Arab-Islamic world as well as visual culture and iconography. He researches the ideology and visual culture of the “Islamic State” (IS).

Dr. Günther was a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Anthropological Research (Department: Integration and Conflict) in Halle / Saale until 2016 and taught at the Universities of Marburg and Leipzig. Previously, he was a fellow at the DFG Research Training Group “Religious Nonconformity and Cultural Dynamics” at the University of Leipzig where he wrote his doctoral thesis (2010-2013). He completed his master's degree (2002-2008) in Islamic Studies, History and Arabic Studies at the University of Bamberg and in 2004/2005 at the University of Cairo (Faculty of Arts / Department of Arabic Language).

As a recognized expert in the ideology and visual culture of the Islamic State (IS), he is regularly consulted by the media and provides a position for them with his detailed, well-founded background knowledge.

Dr. Günther worked during his Guest professorship on the preparation of the third-party application for the project “Jihadism on the Internet. On the Design, Reception and Appropriation of Radical Islamic Online Propaganda” of the department of Ethnology Mainz (with Prof. Krings). The project investigates IS propaganda as well as its reception and its expression in the form of real texts, pictures and videos. Such a research undertaking is relevant and innovative, as it deals with the recent significant change in the design quality of radical Islamic / jihadist propaganda, which has been observable since 2013, and raises specific societal questions. The study of the aesthetics and its forms of appropriation by intended and unintended recipients supplements and extends the existing, primarily political or Islamic scientific research to a media-cultural-scientific, media-anthropological perspective. This can provide new insight into the self-perception and perception of others by jihadists, but - by taking into account the reception side, which itself becomes productive again - it also takes into consideration the experiential world of Islamist extremism as such. As a subject of investigation, videos of the so-called Islamic State are first selected for detailed analysis, which are targeted at a non-regional audience - that of the “global North”. In addition, regional Arabic material from Syria and Iraq will be evaluated, as well as Arabic and domestic language material of the Nigerian group Boko Haram, which formally joined the IS in March 2015.