Starve and Immolate
The Politics of Human Weapons
Columbia University Press 2016
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Critical TheoryNew Books in Middle Eastern StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network December 10, 2016 John McMahon
What is the relationship between state power and self-destructive violence as a mode of political resistance? In her book Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (Columbia University Press, 2016), Banu Bargu (Politics, The New School) analyzes the Turkish death fast movement and explores self-inflicted death as a political practice. Amid a global intensification of the “weaponization of life,” Bargu argues for conceptualizing this self-destructive use of the body as a complex political and existential act. In doing so, she theorizes a reconfiguration of sovereignty into biosovereignty and of resistance into necroresistance. To accomplish this, the book innovatively weaves together political and critical theory with ethnography in a way that enables the self-understanding and self-narration of those in and around the death fast movement to speak to canonical thinkers and concepts.
John McMahon is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Beloit College. He is a former Fellow at the Center for Global Ethics and Politics at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY, which sponsors the podcast. In addition to NB Global Ethics and Politics, he also co-hosts the Always Already critical theory podcast.