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Bodies of ViolenceTheorizing Embodied Subjects in International Relations$
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Lauren B. Wilcox

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199384488

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199384488.001.0001

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Explosive Bodies

Explosive Bodies

Suicide Bombing as an Embodied Practice and the Politics of Abjection

(p.80) 3 Explosive Bodies
Bodies of Violence

Lauren B. Wilcox

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 continues the destabilization of IR’s assumptions about bodies, focusing on the assumption of bodies as naturally self-contained and bordered by the skin. It argues that, outside the strategic efficacy and cultural motivations that have been debated in the IR literature, the political power of suicide bombing lies not in the dominant discourse of religious fervor but rather in feminist psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva’s concept of the abject—that which defies borders and is expelled to create the self. As “abject bodies,” suicide bombers frustrate attempts at calculation and rational control of security risks, and, in their mutilated flesh, expose as unstable the idea of the body as a whole, with clearly defined boundaries between inside and outside. Female suicide bombers, whose bodies are already considered “abject,” produce a politics of the body that exceeds narratives of victimhood, and whose very monstrosity symbolically threatens the foundations of the nation-state.

Keywords:   suicide bombing, terrorism, abjection, borders, bodies, nation-states

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