Death in the Shape of a Young Girl: Women's Political Violence in the Red Army Faction - Gender and Political Violence (Hardback)
  • Death in the Shape of a Young Girl: Women's Political Violence in the Red Army Faction - Gender and Political Violence (Hardback)
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Death in the Shape of a Young Girl: Women's Political Violence in the Red Army Faction - Gender and Political Violence (Hardback)

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£26.99
Hardback 352 Pages / Published: 24/04/2015
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In the early 1970s, a number of West German left-wing activists took up arms, believing that revolution would lead to social change. In the years to come, the bombings, shootings, kidnappings and bank robberies of the Red Army Faction (RAF) and Movement 2nd June dominated newspaper headlines and polarized legislative debates. Half of the terrorists declaring war on the West German state were women who understood their violent political actions to be part of their liberation from restrictive gender norms. As women participating in a brand of systematic violence usually associated with masculinity, they presented a cultural paradox, and their political decisions were viewed as gender transgressions by the state, the public, and even the burgeoning women's movement, which considered violence as patriarchal and unfeminist. Death in the Shape of a Young Girl questions this separation of political violence from feminist politics and offers a new understanding of left-wing female terrorists' actions as feminist practices that challenged existing gender ideologies. Patricia Melzer draws on archival sources, unpublished letters, and interviews with former activists to paint a fresh and interdisciplinary picture of West Germany's most notorious political group, from feminist responses to sexist media coverage of female terrorists to the gendered nature of their infamous hunger strikes while in prison. Placing the controversial actions of the Red Army Faction into the context of feminist politics, Death in the Shape of a Young Girl offers an innovative and engaging cultural history that foregrounds how gender shapes our perception of women's political choices and of any kind of political violence.

Publisher: New York University Press
ISBN: 9781479864072
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 590 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 28 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Clearly written and convincingly argued, the book makes original contributions to both feminist theory and the history and interpretation of the RAF, especially in key chapters about motherhood among terrorist women and the body politics of RAF hunger strikes." -Choice
"Employing a close reading of radicals' correspondence and journals as well as interviews of movement veterans, [Melzer] explores their understanding of feminism, motherhood, and armed political violence with great sensitivity."-Women's Review of Books
"Death in the Shape of a Young Girl is a stimulating case study that encourages us to look twice: at media representations and ideological discourse, certainly, but also at our own established ways of seeing and the precarious roles allocated to women in the course of revolutionary aspirations."-Times Higher Education
"Women were central to the urban armed strugglein Germany in the 1970s, at some points even more numerous than men. This is alittle known fact that has gone under-researched in the US until now. Patricia Melzer's Death in the Shape of a Young Girl goesa long way to addressing this omission."-Paul Hockenos,author of Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic
"In Death in the Shape of a Young Girl, Melzer offers a valuable intervention in the history of West German terrorism."-Canadian Journal of History
"Melzer meticulously reconstructs these uncomfortable discussions, which have been largely omitted from the history of the women's movement...In pushing us to reconsider certain assumptions about the relationship between gender, feminism and violence that we take for granted, Death in the Shape of a Young Girl is undoubtedly a powerful and important contribution to the field." -CritCom: A Forum for Research & Commentary in Europe
"In Death in the Shape of a Young Girl, Melzer offers a valuable intervention in the history of West German terrorism."-Canadian Journal of History
"Death inthe Shape of a Young Girl is so deeply revealing of how the actual complexgender politics of a radical movement get swept under the media's rug ofstereotypes. Melzer shows us in gripping detail how intensely the women insidethis 1970s German underground movement interacted with the feminist debates ofthe time. Anyone interested in social movements, feminism in the Cold War, andthe genderings of political violence will have their minds opened by readingthis book."-Cynthia Enloe,author of Seriously! Investigating Crashes and Crises as if Women Mattered
"Absorbing and provocative, this study of West German women who carried out political violence will be of great importance to those concerned with gender, violence, and the ways in which each so centrally informs the other in unexpected ways."-Belinda Davis,author of Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin
"Melzer's work establishes a strong platform upon which the next, crucial stages of feminist research should unfold. It anticipates a critical comparison of political violence as it has been waged across the turn of the last century, from the transnational terror commandeered by the RAF to the contemporary vicissitudes of radical Islamism."-The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics, and Culture

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