Spring 2015

Suicide Protest

Listed in: Special Seminar, as COLQ-232

Moodle site: Course


Andrew Poe (Section 01)


This course will engage current debates on the place of suicide protest in effecting political change. Recent events--from self-immolations in the Arab Spring, to hunger strikes in Turkey and India, to public suicides in China, Tibet, and Greece--have revealed that suicide can be a significant mode of protest. Yet despite the public attention these events have claimed, there has been too little consideration of whether and how suicide constitutes a unique form of social and political protest. How does “suicide protest” work politically to mobilize support or to incite hostility? Are different forms of suicide protest useful for different sorts of political ends? What are the psychological grounds on which suicide protest affects populations? Does the speed of the method of suicide (rapid, as with self-immolation or slow, as with fasting) produce different outcomes? In what respects is suicide protest non-violent? How, if at all, is suicide protest normatively distinct from suicide terror? Using these questions as guides, this course is designed to introduce students to suicide protest as an area of important current academic research. The course will be organized to help students to theorize such political violence, fostering understandings of how research on this topic can be framed, as well as identifying new pathways for further exploration. This course is part of a new model of tutorials at Amherst designed to enable students to engage in substantive and collaborative research with faculty.

Open to  sophomores and juniors. Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 6 students. Spring semester.  Professor Poe.

If Overenrolled: Students will be selected based on significant interest in research in this particular topic.


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015