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Theorising Performative Violence: Radical Islam and Beheading in Perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Article number4
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/12/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Nacao e Defesa
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)28-42
Publication statusPublished
Early online date31/03/17
Original languageEnglish


This essay explores that most decisive and profound of corporeal violence – beheading. Once common across cultures, this form or punishment has lost favour in most modern societies. Yet, there are some societies who encourage beheading either on religious or cultural grounds. This study seeks
to examine and comprehend the indigenous purposes and cultural meanings of ritual beheading. The analysis central preoccupation is: Why behead? It is often difficult and almost impossible to elicit a direct answer from the culture or individual that is heart of this gory undertaking.

It is proposed a tentative line of argument that seeks to problematize beheading in contemporary context. While pursuing this question it is examined various theoretical and philosophical positions that help situate this rather gory undertaking. As per empirical evaluation discussion is confined to two well-known contemporary cases. They relate to the sporadic cases of beheading by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the dreaded methods of public execution by the militants of (the so called) Islamic State (IS).