Diken 2005 Rape

Title Information

Authors: Bülent Diken and Carsten Bagge Laustsen

Title: Becoming Abject

Subtitle: Rape as a Weapon of War

Journal: Body & Society

Volume: 11

Issue: 1

Year: March 2005

Pages: 111-128

ISSN: 1357-034X – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1460-3632 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Types: Wartime Rape

Full Text

Link: SAGE Journals [Restricted Access]

Additional Information


Bulent Diken, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University

Carsten Bagge Laustsen, Institut for Statskundskab (Department of Political Science and Government), Aarhus Universitet (Aarhus University)

Abstract: »Organized rape has been an integral aspect of warfare for a long time even though classics on warfare have predominantly focused on theorizing ‘regular’ warfare, that is, the situations in which one army encounters another in a battle to conquer or defend a territory. Recently, however, much attention has been paid to asymmetric warfare and, accordingly, to phenomena such as guerrilla tactics, terrorism, hostage taking and a range of identity-related aspects of war such as religious fundamentalism, holy war, ethnic cleansing and war rape. In fact, war rape can be taken as a perfect example of an asymmetric strategy. In war rape the soldier attacks a civilian (not a fellow combatant) and a woman (not another male soldier), and does this only indirectly with the aim of holding or taking a territory. The primary target here is to inflict trauma and through this to destroy family ties and group solidarity within the enemy camp. This article understands war rape as a fundamental way of abandoning subjects: rape is the mark of sovereignty stamped directly on the body, that is, it is essentially a bio-political strategy using (or better, abusing) the distinction between the self and the body. Through an analysis of the way rape was carried out by the predominantly paramilitary Serbian forces on Bosnian soil, this article theorizes a two-fold practice of abjection: through war rape an abject is introduced within the woman’s body (sperm or forced pregnancy), transforming her into an abject-self rejected by the family, excluded by the community and quite often also the object of a self-hate, sometimes to the point of suicide. This understanding of war rape is developed in the article through a synthesis of the literature on abandonment (Agamben, Schmitt) and abjection (Bataille, Douglas, Kristeva) and concomitantly it is argued that the penetration of the woman’s body works as a metaphor for the penetration of enemy lines. In addition it is argued that this bio-political strategy, like other forms of sovereignty, operates through the creation of an ‘inclusive exclusion’. The woman and the community in question are inscribed within the enemy realm of power as those excluded.« (Source: Body & Society)


  Rape and Warfare (p. 111)
  Rape as Ethnic Cleansing (p. 114)
  The Politics of Abjection (p. 116)
  Religion and Abjection (p. 118)
  Shame (p. 120)
  Brotherhood in Guilt (p. 123)
  Pharmakotic Warfare (p. 126)
  Reference (p. 127)

Wikipedia: War rape

Added: July 5, 2014 | Last updated: July 5, 2014