This shift in discursive practices notes a change in how the subject of the Daesh is conceived, why should one use a certain one over others? If we return to an earlier article on the Socio-Politico-Cultural, we must remember some of the comments highlighted by social critics, Michel Foucault and Judith Butler. “In order to have a subject that is subjected, or rather a subject under subjection, it has to be produced; and this act of production makes a subject which becomes culturally intelligible” (The Socio-Politico-Cultural) – this is the current discursive change in our understanding of the Daesh; in the terms of Ferdinand de Saussure, the signified organization has been given a signifier through the term “Daesh” to further establish its political relations in terms of mutual hostility, the being, or the subject of the organization signified has been changed by the signifier in place, for the intent is to delegitimize its status as representative of Islam to Western discourse.
To understand the change effected by a change in signifiers, one must understand the meaning of “Daesh.” “Daesh is an acronym that stands for the Arabic name of the Islamic State: Al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham” (Global News) – in this sense, the term “Daesh” literally translates as something very similar to what “ISIS” and “ISIL” have stood for. Nonetheless, mere semantics undermines the symbolic importance of this change in signifiers. Daesh “sounds like an insult, resembling the Arabic word "daes," which refers to something that stomps, or crushes” (CTV News); some have also associated the term to reflect the destruction of temples, which in turn reflect the un-Islamic character of the organization. Thus, it is in the terms of a caricaturing depiction that the ire of the organization signified as Daesh is triggered.
This practice can be analogous to some extent to the use of the term “cisgender” in the discourse of sex at gender, for both displacements of the signifiers – from ISIS to Daesh; from man/woman to cisgender – aim at change in the normative practices and ideas surrounding what is signified.
However, it is this very caricaturing depiction that brings the “Daesh” signifier into question – the caricaturing signifier is ultimately aiming at a de-legitimization of the organization as a state and as Islamic. Nonetheless, in literal translation, these terms are still referred to; thus, to call the organization Daesh only displaces the ideas of state and Islam for the Western discursive practices (of those who lack knowledge of Arabic). The caricature-esque character of the “Daesh” signifier has been criticized in another regard – the discursive practice of the term “Daesh” displaces the legitimacy of the threat for an infantile defence mechanism; it is the notion that the organization gets “pissed off” at being called names it doesn’t like, and we want to do it because it doesn’t like it. This displacement aims at a commodification of the traumatic experience of the West through a denial of threat – whereas this is not an open venue to those who live under the Daesh regime, for to use the term disliked by the regime rewards one with losing one’s tongue.
I shall admit my own uncertainty upon which term to use; thus, I shall end the article with an open question: What kind of discursive practices are most adequate to refer to the organization most commonly known as “ISIS”? What is the benefit of utilizing diverse signifiers? And in what ways do we want to change our understanding of what is signified by the signifiers we utilize?