Ajit Maan

Professor of Practice
TEMPE Campus
Professor of Practice
TEMPE Campus


Ajit Maan’s early work contributed to post-colonial theory by demonstrating how structures of post-colonial selfhood can be expanded and re-imagined. She has argued that diasporic populations which have benefited from post-colonial awakening are uniquely positioned to subvert the regulatory effects of any one culture and far from being in a lamentable situation (as Derrida theorized it) nomadic existence in-between cultures enables otherwise unimaginable techniques of self-creation.

Her breakthrough theory of Internarrative Identity came in 1997. She published a book by the same name in 1999 which was released in its second edition in 2010 (with the addition of the subtitle Placing the Self).

The central tenet of Internarrative Identity is that the ability of individuals to shape their lives is extended by multiple autobiographical narratives with associative principles beyond temporality, linearity, unity, and cohesion.

While the foundation of traditional Narrative Identity Theory is the holding together of life experiences in a unified structure, Internarrative Identity Theory celebrates what have previously been considered problematic areas of experience  - conflict, marginalization, disruption, subversion, and deviation - as places of possibility for self creation. Internarrative Identity Theory locates the solution of narrative conflict within the problem itself. Existence in-between authoritarian discourses and dominant discourses enables an extended form of agency wherein a subject is able to undermine traditional associations, assumptions, concepts, and at the same time, create links between otherwise incommensurable world-views. Rather than being a passive recipient of dominant discourses the Internarrative subject is uniquely able to subvert regulatory identity practices.

Maan then turned her attention to the analysis of narrative as a means of combating terrorist recruitment tactics. Her seminal 2014 book, "Counter-Terrorism: Narrative Strategies," focuses on deconstructing dominant and coercive narratives and demonstrates how certain narrative structures lend themselves to manipulation and how the weaknesses of those structures can be exploited. Maan makes a connection, unique to terrorism studies, between the mechanisms of colonizing narratives and psychological warfare aimed at the recruit. Demonstrating that connection has made the book itself a counter-recruitment tool.

In 2017, Maan coined the term “Narrative Warfare” to refine what has been referred to as information wars and psychological warfare. Her current work seeks to demonstrate how Narrative Warfare is the foundation of information, psychological, or any form of non-kinetic warfare.

Her work has had far-reaching implications for counter-terrorism, military strategy, and community engagement in hostile environments. Maan’s work is frequently referenced in academic literature and has been the subject of international and multi-disciplinary scholarship including the recently published multi-authored scholarly monograph "Representations of Internarrative Identity," as well as being used instructional material in defense and security institutions world-wide.

Her articles have appeared in Special Operations Forces News, Homeland Security Today, Foreign Policy, Real Clear Defense, The Strategy Bridge, Small Wars Journal, Defense and Intelligence Norway, Stars and Strips, The Indian Defense Review, The Indian Military Review, and other policy and military strategy journals.


Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Oregon 1997




  • “Plato’s Fear: The Power of Poetry Over National Security” Homeland Security Today, March 1, 2019.
  • "Fighting the Fight We Are In," Special Operations Forces News, December 11, 2018.
  • “Complete Target Audience Analysis: Triggering the Unconscious to Counter Insurgencies" Narrative Strategies Journal, Nov.13, 2018, reprinted in Defense and Intelligence Norway November 19, 2018.
  • “Narrative Warfare”, Real Clear Defense, Feb 27, 2018
  • “The Fleeting Soft Power Opportunity in Yemen,” Real Clear Defense. Jan. 16, 2018
  • and Defense and Intelligence Norway, Feb. 2, 2018.
  • “Recruitment Narratives: Cutting Off the Legs Isn’t Enough,” Defense and Intelligence Norway. Jan. 16, 2018.
  • “Addressing Domestic Terrorism and the White Wing,” Real Clear Defense, Oct.3 2017.
  • “Battles Can Be Won with Kinetics, But Wars Are Won With Influence," Real Clear Defense, (reprinted in The Briefing Room and Indian Strategic Studies) May 23, 2017.
  • “Improving Our Predictive Capacities Against Attacks by Individuals,” Defense and Intelligence Norway. March 27, 2017.
  • “How Immigrants Can Help Us Understand American Identity,” Foreign Policy. March 2, 2017.
  • “How Narratives Impact Warfare” in Defense and Intelligence Norway, Jan. 19, 2017.
  • “What We Can Predict About U.S.- India Relations in the Coming Trump Years” in Foreign Policy, Dec. 1, 2017.
  • “How Master Narratives Are Impacting Meta Narratives on Syria” in Defense and Intelligence Norway, Sept. 13, 2016.
  • “The Responsibility to Protect in the Context of State-Sponsored Terror” in Defense and Intelligence Norway, July 7, 2016
  • “How to Think About Orlando” (co-authors Joseph Trindal and Supreet Manchanda) in Foreign Policy, June 13, 2016.
  • “It is Past Time for the American Military to Open its Doors to Sikhs” in Foreign Policy, June 2, 2016.
  • “The Brussels Attack: What We Should Be Doing Differently” (co-authored with Supreet Manchanda) in Defense and Intelligence Norway, March 22, 2016. 
  • “ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Organization” Small Wars Journal, Dec. 29, 2015.
  • “Narratives Are About Meaning, Not Necessarily the Truth” Foreign Policy, Dec. 3, 2015.
  • “Suicide Nets and Caste Conflict: Welcome to Business in India” Medium, Oct. 2015.
  • “Soft Power in the Green Corridor” (Co-authored with James Sisco) in Indian Military Review, Aug. 24, 2015.
  • “The Heart of the Common Man: The Battle Ground of Asymmetric Conflict” in Indian Defense Review, Aug. 19, 2015.
  • “Conflict Analysis: A Paradigm Shift to a Population-Centric Strategy” (co-authored with James Sisco) in The Strategy Bridge, July 29, 2015.
  • “U.S. Prisons Play a Role in Domestic Terrorism” in Register-Guard, July 29, 2015.
  • “Maoist Insurgency: A Strategy to Erode Popular Support” (co-authored with James Sisco) in Indian Defense Review, July 18, 2015.
  • “Narrative: The Critical Component of Counter-Terrorism Strategy” in Small Wars Journal, July 2015
  • “Use of Torture Feeds Islamic State’s Narrative” in The Register-Guard, Jan. 2, 2015
  • “Calls to Terror and Other Weak Narratives” in Journal of Narrative and Conflict: Explorations in Theory and Practice, April 26, 2015
  • “The Kill-Capture Approach Isn’t Working For Us: Narratives Do Better” (co-authored with James Sisco) in Foreign Policy, April 23, 2015
  • “Bad Intelligence and Hard Power” in The Strategy Bridge, May 10, 2015
  • “Women Are More Than Victims So It’s Time To Focus Security Strategies On Them” (co-authored with James Sisco) in Foreign Policy, May 14, 2015
  • “Sneaky Stories: Challenges to Moral Contraband” in Philosophical Practice, Journal of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association, July 2013
  • “Narrative Authority: Performing the Postcolonial Self” in Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, May 2007
  • “Post-Colonial Practices and Narrative Nomads: Thinking Sikhism Beyond Metaphysics” in Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory, Dec. 2005


  • “Decolonizing the Mind: Undermining the Psychological Assault of Terrorist Recruitment Narratives” in Handbook of De-Radicalization, ed. Stian Lid and Stig Jarle Hansen, Routledge.



Fall 2019
Course Number Course Title
GSC 598 Special Topics

Professional Associations


Military Writers Guild

Society for Terrorism Research

Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium

American Philosophical Association

American Psychological Association

American Philosophical Practitioners Association

Center for Narrative Therapy (Canada)

International Society for the Study of Narrative

CyberSpace Research Institute