Book Talk: Mosul under ISIS - eyewitness accounts of life in the caliphate

Four years after the liberation of Mosul from ISIS, little is understood about the reality of its rule, or reasons for its failure, as seen by those who actually lived under it. In a new book Mathilde Becker Aarseth details what was going on on the inside of ISIS institutions.

Picture of the new book with a quote from the publisher.

The seminar is free and open to all, and will be held in English. To see the live stream of the event, please scroll down. 

The book focuses on ISIS governance of education, healthcare and policing, and is built on interviews with civilians including: teachers who were forced to teach the group's new curriculum; professors who organized secret classes in private; doctors who took direct orders from ISIS leaders and worked in their headquarters; bureaucratic staff who worked for ISIS. These accounts provide unique insight into the lived realities in the controlled territories and reveal how the terrorist group balanced their commitment to Islamist ideology with the practical challenges of state building.

Moving beyond the simplistic dichotomy of civilians as either passive victims or ISIS supporters, Mathilde Becker Aarseth highlights those people who actively resisted or affected the way in which ISIS ruled. The book invites readers to understand civilians' complex relationship to the extremist group in the context of fragmented state power and a city torn apart by the occupation.

A photo of researcher Mathilde Becker Aarseth


Mathilde Becker Aarseth is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Islamic and Middle East Studies (CIMS), University of Oslo. The book "Mosul under ISIS" is based on her PhD dissertation on ISIS governance.

Brynjar Lia is Professor of Middle East Studies at CIMS and an influential scholar on the history of Islamist and jihadist movements.

Kjetil Selvik is a Senior Researcher in NUPI’s research group on Peace Conflict, and Development. He works on struggles over states and regimes in the Middle East, and has published widely on politics in Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

Khalid Zaza is a jurist in international law and human rights. He is the founder of Zaza Consulting, which provides expert research and advice to international organisations carrying out projects in the MENA region, including Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Click to Stream the Event

Published Nov. 5, 2021 3:40 PM - Last modified Aug. 6, 2022 6:26 AM