Suicide bombing as acts of deathly citizenship? A critical double-layered inquiry

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5 Scopus citations


While prevailing terrorism research often asks what we can do to eliminate the threat of suicide terrorism, this article switches the question by asking: what problems might the agency manifested in suicide bombing (even if unlawful and irresponsible) solve for us? In critiquing the sociological positivist approach that seeks to uncover the causes of suicide terrorism – and in the process reveals a hidden ideology that sustains the binary of ‘democracy’ versus ‘terrorism,’ and portrays the latter as a threat to the former – I extend upon the legacy of Fanonian violence to conduct a critical double-layered inquiry in connecting suicide bombing to the agency of citizenship. In the first, political layer of inquiry, I borrow from the works of social theorists Engin Isin and Melanie White in arguing that suicide bombing in the Palestinian situation can be read as a moment of ‘acts of deathly citizenship’. However, by pointing to three insufficiencies in the first layer of analysis – the role of rationality, the role of the quotidian, and the role of subculture – I argue for the need of a second, cultural layer of inquiry that looks at suicide bombing not only as a momentary political act, but as a sustained and permeating ‘subcultural script’ of deathly citizenship that challenges the liberal national script founded on the individual pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-163
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Acts
  • Agency
  • Citizenship
  • Cultural
  • Palestine
  • Political
  • Script
  • Subculture
  • Suicide bombing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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