Female Terrorism and Militancy: Agency, Utility, and Organization, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Female Terrorism and Militancy

Agency, Utility, and Organization, 1st Edition

Edited by Cindy D. Ness


242 pages

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This edited volume provides a window on the many forces that structure and shape why women and girls participate in terrorism and militancy, as well as on how states have come to view, treat, and strategize against them.

Females who carry out terrorist acts have historically been seen as mounting a challenge to the social order by violating conventional notions of gender and power, and their participation in such acts has tended to be viewed as being either as a passive victim or a feminist warrior. This volume seeks to move beyond these portrayals, to examine some of the structuring conditions that play a part in a girl or woman’s decision to commit violence. Amidst the contextual factors informing her involvement, the volume seeks also to explore the political agency of the female terrorist or militant. Several of the articles are based on research where authors had direct contact with female terrorists or militants who committed acts of political violence, or with witnesses to such acts.


"This important edited volume discusses the drivers behind why and how women and girls become radicalized into extremism and terrorism, and the strategies that are required to counter this phenomenon… Several of the volume’s articles are based on field research where the authors interviewed incarcerated female terrorists." - Joshua Sinai, ‘Terrorism Bookshelf: Top 150 Books on Terrorism and Counterterrorism’, Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol. 6, No. 2 (2012)

"Female Terrorism and Militancy is a seminal book on the subject, and does a good, if not exhaustive, job of describing and dispelling many of the stereotypes and faulty interpretations of this phenomenon." - Critical Terrorism Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction Cindy D. Ness. In the Name of the Cause: Women’s Work in Secular and Religious Terrorism Cindy D. Ness. Women Fighting in Jihad? David Cook. Beyond the Bombings – Analyzing Female Suicide Bombers Debra Zedalis. (Gendered) War Carolyn Nordstrom. The Evolving Participation of Muslim Women in Palestine, Chechnya, and the Global Jihadi Movement Karla Cunningham. Black Widows and Beyond: Understanding the Motivations and Life Trajectories of Chechen Female Terrorists Anne Speckhard and Khapta Akhmedova. The Black Widows: Chechen Women Join the Fight for Independence – and Allah Anne Nivat. Palestinian Female Suicide Bombers: Virtuous Heroines or Damaged Goods? Yoram Schweitzer. Martyrs or Murderers? Victims or Victimizers? The Voices of Would Be Palestinian Female Suicide Bombers Anat Berko and Edna Erez. Girls as "Weapons of Terror" in Northern Uganda and Sierra Leonean Rebel Fighting Forces Susan McKay. From Freedom Birds to Water Buffaloes: Women Terrorists in Asia Margaret Gonzalez-Perez. Women and Organized Racial Terrorism in the United States Kathleen M. Blee. The Portrayal of Female Terrorists in the Media: Similar Framing Patterns in the News Coverage of Women in Politics and in Terrorism Brigitte L. Nacos

About the Editor

Cindy D. Ness is Director of Programs at the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a practicing psychotherapist. She holds a doctorate from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology.

About the Series

Contemporary Terrorism Studies

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Terrorism