Understanding Female Suicide Terrorism in Sri Lanka through a Constructivist Lens   [open pdf - 185KB]

"Most analysts agree that Tamil suicide attacks were used primarily as special weapons to infiltrate tightly controlled military targets. The utility of this tactic is not unique to the Tamil movement and has been utilized as a prime motive by nearly every organization choosing to implement women as suicide bombers. However, behind every tactic are larger social demands striving for recognition. These social movements are driven by norms, identity, and social structures that define sub-state actors in turmoil. This study of female suicide bombers will seek to address how agency and structure of Tamil society were systemic factors driving the organizational imperatives of the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam]. In the case of Sri Lanka, I argue three primary factors suggest a constructivist interpretation provides a more sufficient tool for understanding the use of female suicide bombers. First, a number of institutional programs promoted discrimination, suppression and violence against Tamil society; second the LTTE organization was able to harness discontent and mobilize women as protectors of the Tamil nation; and third, the above two factors were skillfully wrapped in a narrative of cultural liberation that outlined the necessity of female martyrdom. While realist notions of the utility of female suicide bombers as a military tactic provide a valuable explanation, the tactic's emergence is better explained by understanding a broader spectrum of components developed in this article."

Public Domain
Retrieved From:
MERLN (Military Education Research Library Network: http://merln.ndu.edu/
Media Type:
Strategic Insights (Spring/Summer 2010), v.9 no.1 p.65-89
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