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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Gender as a Category of Knowledge

Dr. Claudia Brunner

PhD Project:

Knowing Suicide Bombing: Epistemic Violence and Occidentalism in Terrorism Studies



Description of the project


This study uses perspectives from the sociology of science to introduce a feminist postcolonial view to a highly contested field of expertise – terrorism studies. It delineates an innovative methodological approach towards the »knowledge« of terrorism, which has become a privileged signifier in the occidentalist self-assertion of Western dominance. What we know about »(suicide) terrorism« and how we generate this knowledge, I argue, are embedded in practices of globally asymmetric power arrangements of which the new IR-subdiscipline of terrorism studies constitutes a vital part. By analyzing and interpreting a vast array of texts, graphs, models, and images taken from major publications about »suicide bombing« from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, the book establishes a link between the various forms of political violence that are discussed in the material, on the one hand, and the implicit dimension of epistemic violence that is inherent in this field of knowledge production, on the other.



Claudia Brunner has studied political science and gender studies at Vienna University and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She was member of the graduate program at Humboldt-University from 2005 to 2008 and worked at its center for transdisciplinary gender studies in 2009. Since 2010, she has been an assistant professor at the center for peace studies and peace education at Klagenfurt University. Brunner’s work was awarded with the Christiane Rajewsky Price in 2011 and the Caroline von Humboldt Price in 2012.


Selected Publications


Assassins, Virgins, Scholars. Epistemologies and Geopolitics in Scholarly Knowledge on Suicide. In: Gender, Agency and Political Violence, hg. v. Linda Ahåll u. Laura Shepherd, Houndmills 2012. P. 132 – 147.

Wissensobjekt Selbstmordattentat. Epistemische Gewalt und okzidentalistische Selbstvergewisserung in der Terrorismusforschung, Wiesbaden 2011.

zus. m. Gabriele Dietze u. Edith Wenzel (Eds.): Kritik des Okzidentalismus. Transdisziplinäre Beiträge zu (Neo-)Orientalismus und Geschlecht, Bielefeld 2009.

with Daniela Hrzán: Female Suicide Bombing – Female Genital Cutting. Wissen über ›die ganz andere Andere‹ im Spannungsfeld von physischer, politischer und epistemischer Gewalt. In: Femina Politica (2) 2009, S. 95 – 105.