Podcast: Prof. Karin Fierke at RCIR

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

In this podcast, following from her talk at RCIR, Professor Karin Fierke discusses with Dr. Peter Busch (War Studies, KCL) her latest book: Political Self Sacrifice: Agency, Body and Emotion in International Relations, published by Cambridge University Press, for more information please click here.

This event took place on 15th November 2013, War Studies Meeting Room (K6.07) Strand Campus, King’s College London. You can read her original article on RCIR Forum here.

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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