This year’s winner of the Center for Gender Research’ prize for best master thesis examines a field and a phenomenon where gender is often implicit. The winner offers a nuanced and important opportunity to understand how something that may appear unimaginable and incomprehensible for most, for others becomes meaningful and even desirable. The study show how intersecting ideals across cultures, countries and religion offers ways to construct and perform a desirable masculinity. Weaving together time, places, spaces, religion, gender and sex in the examination and understanding of a so-called Islamist performance of masculinity, the study is truly intersectional. By showing masculinity in and at play, it situates warfare masculinity in a specific time and place. A perspective like this is a contribution to its field by offering an important opposition to simpler, but perhaps more comfortable, top-down explanations of the phenomenon of foreign fighters. Showing the complex interplay between religion, ethnicity, belonging and gender, this contribution emphasizes the importance of taking gender and masculinity into consideration in future rehabilitation and prevention of foreign fighters. That these are mostly men is not an unimportant aspect of the phenomenon.
The study is methodologically broad, combining fieldwork and text analysis within different countries and languages. It is also theoretically strong, combining discourses about homeland with religious and spiritual aspects of belonging.