Framing analysis of online discourse of returning foreign fighters and their families


  Aberer Karl


With the prolonged conflict in Iraq and Syria, many nations are faced with the challenge of responding adequately and suitably to the return of thousands of people, including many EU nationals, who traveled to the conflict zones to participate in the fighting. Predominantly, the problem of foreign fighters is viewed within the lens of counterterrorism efforts. However, there is scope to consider a broader set of alternative framings in international law. That has shaped many debates and online discourses on the framing of returning foreign fighters and their families. The issue is also high on the political agenda of individual EU members as well as the EU collectively.

In this project, we seek to combine our expertise in data science and social science, and identify the important actors spreading and contesting main frames and argumentative lines related to returning foreign fighters in Europe. While conducting the framing analysis, we will consider key gaps in current research on the subject. It is imperative to collect and analyze more data in order to delve into the phenomenon of returning foreign fighters in a more structured way. It is not only crucial to determine the path chosen by foreign fighters after their return but also to study the responses of governments in European countries and propose new policy responses reinforced with detailed assessment of the returnees.

The project team includes Karl Aberer, Tugrulcan Elmas, Rebekah Overdorf (all from LSIR IC, EPFL), Daniela Anke Tresch (GREC ISS, UNIL), and Maud Reveilhac (LINES ISS, UNIL).

This is one of six projects funded by the Collaborative Research on Science and Society (CROSS) program in the College of Humanities (CDH). All six projects are based on the theme of “mobility.”