Usurping Suicide

The Political Resonances of Individual Deaths

Suman Gupta


A provocative and highly original exploration of suicides that have gained wider political resonance, and the challenge this poses to the liberal order.

Can an individual act of suicide be socially significant, or does it present too many imponderable features?

This book examines suicide like no other. Unconcerned with the individual dispositions that lead a person to commit such an act, Usurping Suicide focuses on the reception suicides have produced – their political, social and cultural implications. How does a particular act of suicide enable a collective significance to be attached to it? And what contextual circumstances predispose a politicised public response?

From Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation during regime change in Tunisia to Dimitris Christoulas’s public shooting at a time of increased political upheaval in Greece, and beyond – this remarkable work examines how the individuality of the act of suicide poses a disturbing symbolic conundrum for the dominant liberal order.

Author Bio

Suman Gupta is a professor of Literature and Cultural History at the Open University, UK, and honorary senior fellow at Roehampton University, UK.

Mike Hajimichael is an associate professor at The University of Nicosia, Cyprus, in the Department of Communications.

Milena Katsarska lectures in American studies at Plovdiv University, Bulgaria.

Theodoros A. Spyros is a post-doctoral fellow of historical sociology at the University of Crete, and adjunct academic staff in the sociology and anthropology of sports at the Hellenic Open University.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. On Suicide Archives and Political Resonances - Suman Gupta
  • 2. The Irresistible Rise and Fall of Posthumous Bouazizi - Suman Gupta
  • 3. Austerity Annuls the Individual: Dimitris Christoulas and the Greek Financial Crisis - Theodoros A. Spyros and Mike Hajimichael
  • 4. Self-Immolations in Bulgaria: A Quietly Accumulating Record - Milena Katsarska
  • 5. Self-Effacing Suicides and Troubled Talk - Suman Gupta


‘Sometimes the depth of an economic crisis can only be fathomed when suicide, that most personal of acts, accrues political meaning and consequence. The authors bring committed insight to political suicides in our time, from Tunisia to Syntagma Square.’
Terrence McDonough, author of Contemporary Capitalism and its Crises

‘An original study of those moments when the act of ending one’s own life can acquire public and political significance. The authors bring a fresh approach to an old problem: why individuals choose to end their lives and what meaning the act can have for those left behind.’
Aamir R. Mufti, author of Forget English! Orientalisms and World Literatures


Publication Date: 15 August 2017
256 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786990983
Hardback: 9781786990990
eBook ePub: 9781786991010
eBook PDF: 9781786991003
eBook Kindle: 9781786991027

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