Boko Haram and the Discourse of Mimicry: a Critical Discourse Analysis of Media Explanations for Boko Haram’s Improved Video Propaganda Quality

The Nigeria-based violent non-state actor Boko Haram is increasingly reported on in the news media in relation to the Islamic State, another, more prominent, violent non-state actor. In particular, these comparisons have been drawn within the context of reports on Boko Haram’s recent improvement in video propaganda quality. While the associations with the Islamic State are often warranted, there are broader social consequences when colonial power relations are brought into play. Borrowing an approach from critical discourse analysis, 16 online English-language news articles were read through a postcolonial lens in order to analyse the structural relations of dominance that arise when discussing African non-state actors. The analysis revealed that among the corpus of articles, nine developed a discourse of mimicry, which serves to deny Boko Haram full agency, relegate them to a silenced subaltern status, and ultimately to diminish the sense of threat posed to the dominant geopolitical security paradigm.

Tags: Boko Haram, Discourse Analysis, ISIS, Violent Jihadism