Body/politic and the illumination of Human Suffering

by K.M. Fierke, University of St. Andrews

Why write a book on a topic so macabre as Political Self Sacrifice? The beginnings were simple enough. I was puzzled by the significance of two distinct words, ‘suicide’ terrorist and martyr – words with two very different meanings, yet used interchangeably to refer to human bombs. But the question of language, while interesting, is not the only one. Why put cases as different as self-immolation by fire, nonviolent martyrdom, hunger strikes and the human bomb under the same microscope, when surely these are very different phenomenon? What do, for instance, the hundreds of Tibetan monks who have set themselves on fire over the past few years, the sixty Kurdish hunger strikers in Turkey (2012) or the hundred some hunger strikers at Guantanamo, the thousands of nonviolent activists killed in the early days of the Syrian revolution or the suicide terrorist from Hamas, share, if anything, in common? Why have acts of self-destruction, whether in the form of lighting a match or putting one’s self in harm’s way, been undertaken by so many and why should we, as scholars of international relations, be interested? Continue reading Body/politic and the illumination of Human Suffering

Temporalising difference, spatialising time, in/securing the Mediterranean

by Pinar Bilgin

Recent immigrants deaths on the coasts of Italy have, once again, brought Mediterranean as a source of in/security to European Union’s agenda. As member states discuss what needs to be done to better ‘secure’ European borders against immigrants, the more complex questions about ‘how’ and ‘why’ immigrants travel from southern to northern shores of the Mediterranean are seldom asked. Needless to say, it is not only the European Union gives such securitised responses to arriving immigrants; we observe similar responses in other parts of the world including Australia and the United States, albeit in different ways. The ‘how’ and ‘why’ of immigrants’ journeys from the southern to northern shores of the Mediterranean reveal complex relationships that cannot be reduced to everyday simplifications: ‘they’ are lagging behind ‘us’ and therefore want to come here to make use of the benefits ‘we’ extend to ‘our’ citizens. Continue reading Temporalising difference, spatialising time, in/securing the Mediterranean