The power of emotion: examining the selfimmolation of Mohamad Bouazizi, the Arab revolution and international politics


  • Hanna Samir Kassab

Palabras clave:

Securitization, biopower, orientalism, Arab revolutions, political suicide


This paper argues that Mohamad Bouazizi’s self-immolation was a Pragmatic Act aimed at escaping Biopower formulated by the authoritarian Tunisian regime for the purpose of securitizing Structural Violence. It is a sensational form of suicide that awakens emotions and inspires resistance. Human emotions, not technological innovation, had the power to change regimes. Twitter and Facebook are methods of communication that helped transmit this rage, but did not cause these revolutions. Passions, lit by Bouazizi’s flame, diffused naturally by human interface and may have occurred without such technological advances. This paper is divided into three main parts. The first is to theorize the act of self-immolation. The second theorizes about the power human emotion has on the international arena. Lastly, it highlights the discursive power of scholarship. Fundamentally, this paper seeks to illuminate these thoughts on Bouazizi’s self-immolation, as well pursue self-reflexivity that exemplifies the subjectivity of intellectuality. It presents a novel argument as it describes what dominant theories of International Relations omit: how ordinary people influence the international politics. The Arab Revolutions were caused not solely by the emergence of social networks or news media, but by emotional diffusion. Raw human anger forms the uniting force that assembles and organizes oppressed populations. By using these concepts and describing this and other cases of self-immolation, one discovers a pattern: self-immolation is an extraordinary method of suicide that persons without agency use to securitize structural violence by means of human emotion. As such, emotions are an integral, but understudied part of International Relations.


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Cómo citar

Samir Kassab, H. (2023). The power of emotion: examining the selfimmolation of Mohamad Bouazizi, the Arab revolution and international politics. Perspectivas Internacionales, 8(1), 9–39. Recuperado a partir de



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