Explosive Bodies and Bounded States

Citation:

Wilcox, Lauren. 2014. “Explosive Bodies and Bounded States.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 16 (1): 66–85. doi:10.1080/14616742.2012.750947.

Author: Lauren Wilcox

Abstract:

The bodies produced by the violent practice of suicide bombing are a source of horror and disgust. They are, in feminist psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva's concept, abject: that which defies borders and is expelled to create the self. As ‘abject bodies’, suicide bombers' bodies 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. Attempts at constructing subjects out of the mutilated bodily remains of victims and perpetrators of suicide bombings are key practices in the production of the state and gendered subjects. The practice of suicide bombing and efforts to recover and resignify bodies reveals how power molds and constitutes the border of the body and state simultaneously. The explosive body of the suicide bomber thus has destabilizing effects beyond the motivations of its perpetrators and exposes the political work necessary to maintain the illusion of secure, bounded bodies and states.

Keywords: abjection, bodies, nationalism, sovereignty, suicide bombing, territory

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Nationalism, Terrorism

Year: 2014

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