Talal Asad On Suicide Bombing

12033798.gifColumbia University Press has posted an online .mp3 interview with Talal Asad to promote his new book, On Suicide Bombing. The introduction to the book is also available online. A brief excerpt:

I look critically at a range of current explanations of suicide terrorism that are now being put forward, and I question the preoccupation by writers on the subject with attributing distinctive motives (as opposed to the manifest intention to kill) to perpetrators of suicide bombing. I say that motives in general are more complicated than is popularly supposed and that the assumption that they are truths to be accessed is mistaken: the motives of suicide bombers in particular are inevitably fictions that justify our responses but that we cannot verify. I then move away from writers attempting to explain the phenomenon of suicide bombings who address larger questions of killing and dying in relation to politics. Drawing on the history of ideas, I emphasize that although liberal thought separates the idea of violence from the idea of politics, mortal violence is integral to liberalism as a political formation.

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