Suicidal performances: voicing discontent in a girls’ dormitory in Kabul

Billaud, Julie (2012) Suicidal performances: voicing discontent in a girls’ dormitory in Kabul. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 36 (2). pp. 264-285. ISSN 0165-005X

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Abstract

Female suicide in Afghanistan has generally been given economic and psychological explanations. More rarely has its social dimension been analysed. In this paper, I underline the communicative potential of Afghan women’s suicide in the ‘post-war/reconstruction’ context. I highlight its ambiguous symbolic power and its anchorage in the subversive imaginary universe of women’s poetic expression. I argue that while reproducing certain cultural ideas about women’s inherent emotional fragility, women’s suicide also challenges the honour system in powerful ways and opens possibilities for voicing discontent. I qualify female suicide as the ‘art of the weak’ (De Certeau 1980, 6), a covert form of protest, a performance—in the sense of Bauman (2004)—that builds upon traditional popular ‘knowledge’ about gender in order to manage the impression of an audience and make women’s claims audible.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Rights and Justice Research Centre
Depositing User: Julie Billaud
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2018 09:32
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 15:05
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/77163

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