Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter

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Dr Baele is Senior Lecturer at Exeter’s Politics Department; his research focuses on the linguistic and visual drivers of political violence from a multidisciplinary (psychology, sociology, etc.) and multi-methods (discourse analysis, semantic network analysis, etc.) perspective. He has published widely in top IR/security journals on cases such as Hutu extremist radio, Incel forums, Breivik, or radical pro-Israeli/Palestinian blogs, teaches on extremist communications, and regularly engages on these issues with UK government practitioners. In 2016-2017 he was the PI for a CREST-funded project on ISIS communications (deliverables include ISIS Propaganda: A Full-Spectrum Extremist Message, OUP 2019).

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Recent publications

Baele S., Sterck O. (2015) “Diagnosing the Securitisation of Immigration at the EU Level: A New Method for Stronger Empirical Claims”, Political Studies 63(5), 1120-1139.
Baele S., Balzacq T. (2015) “The Third Debate and Postpositivism”, in Denemark R. (ed.) The International Studies Encyclopedia, Blackwell.
Baele S. (2014) “Are terrorists insane? A critical analysis of mental health categories in lone terrorists' trials”, Critical Studies on Terrorism 7(2), 257-276
Baele S., Sterck O., Meur E. (2014) “Theorizing and Measuring Emotions in Conflict: The Case of the 2011 Palestinian Statehood Bid”, Journal of Conflict Resolution, early view.
Baele S. (2013) “The ethics of New Development Economics: is the Experimental Approach to Development Economics morally wrong?”, Journal of Philosophical Economics 7(1).
Baele S. (2011) « Le conflit israélo-palestinien comme problème psychologique », Etudes Internationales 42(2), 207-224.



Lethal Images: Analyzing Extremist Visual Propaganda from ISIS and Beyond

Violent extremist groups regularly use pictures in their propaganda. This practice, however, remains insufficiently understood. Conceptualizing visual images as amplifiers of narratives and emotions, the present article offers an original theoretical framework and measurement method for examining the synchronic and diachronic study of the manipulative use of images by violent extremist groups. We illustrate this framework and method with a systematic analysis of the 2,058 pictures contained in the Islamic State's propaganda magazines targeting Western audiences, exposing the “visual style” of the group, and highlighting the trends and shifts in the evolution of this style following developments on the ground.

(From the journal abstract)

[SB1] Baele, S. J., Boyd, K. A., & Coan, T. G. (2020). Lethal Images: Analyzing Extremist Visual Propaganda from ISIS and Beyond. Journal of Global Security Studies, 5(4), 634–657.


Authors: Stephane Baele, Katharine Boyd, Travis Coan
The ‘tarrant effect’: What impact did far-right attacks have on the 8chan forum?

This paper analyses the impact of a series of mass shootings committed in 2018–2019 by right-wing extremists on 8chan/pol, a prominent far-right online forum. Using computational methods, it offers a detailed examination of how attacks trigger shifts in both forum activity and content. We find that while each shooting is discussed by forum participants, their respective impact varies considerably. We highlight, in particular, a ‘Tarrant effect’: the considerable effect Brenton Tarrant’s attack of two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, had on the forum. Considering the rise in far-right terrorism and the growing and diversifying online far-right ecosystem, such interactive offline-online effects warrant the attention of scholars and security professionals.

(From the journal abstract)


Baele, S. J., Brace, L., & Coan, T. G. (2020). The ‘tarrant effect’: What impact did far-right attacks have on the 8chan forum? Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 1–23. [SB2] .



Authors: Stephane Baele, Lewys Brace, Travis Coan

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