Patricia Melzer

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20132014 Forum on Violence

Patricia Melzer

Assistant Professor of German and Women's Studies, Temple University

The "Violent Truth" of the Female Terrorist: Political Violence as Feminist Practice

This book project examines the implications of women's political violence for feminist theories through the specific cases of West German women in left-wing terrorist groups such as the RAF and the Red Zora, and feminist street-activists in the Autonomen movement between the 1970s and 1990s. My research suggests that women's political violence can constitute a feminist practice, a conclusion with far-reaching implications for feminist theories of violence. Using Jean-Luc Nancy's reflections on "true violence" and "violent truth" as a starting point, I conceptualize a feminist theory of violence that accounts for discursive effects of violent gender transgressions. While largely ignored by scholars of German social movements, I argue that militant feminism constitutes an important element in the history of German feminist thought and left radical politics more broadly.