On the troublesome relationship of feminism and terrorism: representing the female terrorist in contemporary art
Malvern, S. (2012) On the troublesome relationship of feminism and terrorism: representing the female terrorist in contemporary art. In: Terrorismus /Geschlecht/ Erinnerung (Terrorism and gender Political violence in Europe since the 19th Century). Campus Verlag, Berlin; New York, pp. 303-322. ISBN 9783593396354
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This paper analyses tendencies in debates about cultural representations of terrorism to assume that artists make critical interventions, while the mass media circulates stereotypes. Some recent feminist analyses of female terrorist acts have re-instituted essentialist arguments in which violence and terrorism is described as inherently masculine, while women are by nature pacifist, so that femininity is the antithesis of militarism. More progressive analyses mostly tend to expose the circulation of stereotypes and their gender bias, in order to protest the misrepresentation of women in violence. These analyses do not construct alternative accounts. Through an analysis of two works by artists Hito Steyerl and Sharon Hayes, the paper argues that some of the moves to re-image the question of women, violence and agency have already been made in contemporary art practices. Through analysing legacies of terrorism and feminism, it becomes possible to rethink the question of agency, militancy and the nature of political art. The paper appears in an edited interdiscplinary collection arising from a conference at Universität der Bundeswehr in Munich. It relates to wider projects involving collaborations with Birkbeck and Edinburgh on representations of terrorism and on violence and contemporary art.