On Suicide Bombing

Talal Asad


5.5 x 8.25 inches, 135pp. 2008

ISBN : 9788170463306

Rs  395.00 (PB)
$0.00 (PB)
£0.00 (PB)

Buy (PB)

Like many people in America and around the world, Talal Asad experienced the events of September 11, 2001, largely through the media and the emotional response of others. For many non-Muslims, ‘the suicide bomber’ quickly becamethe icon of ‘an Islamic culture of death’—a conceptual leap that struck Asad as problematic. Is there a ‘religiously motivated terrorism’? If so, how does it differ from other cruelties? What makes its motivation ‘religious’? Where does it stand in relation to other forms of collective violence?


Drawing on his extensive scholarship in the study of secular and religious traditions as as his understanding of social, political, and anthropological theory and research, Asad questions Westerns assumptions regarding death and killing. He scrutinizes the idea of a ‘clash of civilizations’ and its identification of ‘Islamic Jehadism’ as the essence of modern terrorism. He critically engages with a range of explanations of suicide terrorism, exploring many writers’ preoccupation with the motives of perpetrators and the attempt to understand the act in relation to politics. In conclusion, Asa examines our emotional response to suicide and the horror it involves.


On Suicide Bombing is an original and provocative analysis of critiquing the work of intellectuals from both the left and the right. Though fighting evil is an old concept, it has found new and disturbing expressions in our contemporary ‘war on terror’. For Asad, it is critical that we remain aware of the forces shaping the discourse surrounding this new mode of violence. 

Talal Asad is a professor of anthropology at the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York and author of Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity and Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam.


Culture Studies