Simanti Lahiri

Suicide Protest in South Asia

Social movements deploy radical acts of suicide protest in order to demand particular outcomes. This talk examines the history and strategic impact of suicide protest, which has been increasingly used as a protest tactic since World War II. Lahiri offers a combination of historical and contemporary case analysis from South Asia, where different iterations of this tactic have been used extensively throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, including the use of fasting to the death, self-immolation and deliberate drowning. Lahiri argues that suicide protests are unlikely to work well in isolation, instead movements must carefully narrate their deployment of the tactic, embedding it within a constellation of other types of protest in order to create political change.

Simanti Lahiri is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama
with a focus on political contention and violence in South Asia.