Political Self-Sacrifice

Political Self-Sacrifice : Agency, Body and Emotion in International Relations

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Over the last decade the increasing phenomenon of suicide terrorism has raised questions about how it might be rational for individuals to engage in such acts. This book examines a range of different forms of political self-sacrifice, including hunger strikes, self-burning and non-violent martyrdom, all of which have taken place in resistance to foreign interference. Karin Fierke sets out to study the strategic and emotional dynamics that arise from the image of the suffering body, including political contestation surrounding the identification of the victim as a terrorist or martyr, the meaning of the death as suicide or martyrdom and the extent to which this contributes to the reconstruction of community identity. Political Self-Sacrifice offers a counterpoint to rationalist accounts of international terrorism in terrorist and security studies, and is a novel contribution to the growing literature on the role of emotion and trauma in international politics.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 5 b/w illus.
  • 1139604104
  • 9781139604109

Review quote

'This book is part of a growing and important movement that brings individuals - and the body in particular - to the attention of international relations scholars. Engaging the issue of political self-sacrifice, Fierke manages to combine theoretical sophistication with empirical depth. Her impressive study ranges from suicide terrorism to civil disobedience, and from Northern Ireland to Vietnam and the Middle East.' Roland Bleiker, University of Queensland 'Fierke's remarkable book is wide-ranging in its empirical examples and its theoretical tools. Political self-sacrifice has been a powerful strategy for bringing about political change across the globe and, in her analysis, is equally challenging to international relations theory.' Kathryn Hochstetler, University of Waterloo 'A major theoretically-informed empirical analysis of political self-sacrifice that is essential reading for students of the relationships between violence, collective identities and group emotions.' Andrew Linklater, Woodrow Wilson Professor of International Politics, Aberystwyth University 'To burn oneself or starve oneself to death sends a message which is profoundly shocking and speaks truth to power in the strongest terms. Karin Fierke's fascinating study of political self-sacrifice breaks new ground in exploring this phenomenon and interpreting its significance in international relations.' Hugh Miall, University of Kent 'This new book by Karin Fierke is an authoritative theoretical meditation on political acts of self-sacrifice which deserves, and which will receive, a great deal of attention. The author draws on a range of interesting examples in a thought-provoking, accessible and conceptually sophisticated way, contributing to the growing literature on emotion in world politics, and critical international political theory more generally. The result is a distinct, theoretically insightful monograph, which should be required reading for scholars, students and researchers studying political acts of self-sacrifice, and those interested in international relations theory.' Cerwyn Moore, University of Birmingham 'Not only challenges the well-established mantra of terrorism studies but also the way we think about the conduct of politics.' The Times Higher Education Supplementshow more

About K. M. Fierke

K. M. Fierke is Professor of International Relations in the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews. Her books include Changing Games, Changing Strategies: Critical Investigations in Security (1998), Diplomatic Interventions: Conflict and Change in a Globalizing World (2005), Critical Approaches to International Security (2007) and an edited collection with Knud Erik Jorgensen, International Relations: The Next Generation (2001). She has also published widely on topics related to constructivism and security as well as trauma, memory and political violence in a range of internationally recognised journals including International Studies Quarterly, the European Journal for International Relations, International Theory, the Review of International Studies and Millennium.show more

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I. The Framework: 1. Political self-sacrifice; 2. Agency; 3. Body and emotion; Part II. The Historical Cases: 4. Hunger strikes in Northern Ireland, 1980-1; 5. Martyrdom in Poland, 1984; 6. Self-immolation in Vietnam, 1963; Part III. Comparisons and Conclusions: 7. Martyrdom in the contemporary Middle East and north Africa; 8. The public diplomacy of suffering.show more

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