After the Red Army FactionGender, Culture, and Militancy

After the Red Army FactionGender, Culture, and Militancy

Charity Scribner

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780231168649

Publisher: Columbia University Press


This book uses critical theory to answer key gender-related questions about the Red Army Faction (RAF), a group that was masterminded by women and which terrorized West Germany from the 1970s to the 1990s. The questions include: Why were women so prominent in the RAF? And what does the continuing cultural response to the German armed struggle tell us about the representation of violence, power, and gender today? The book analyzes works by pivotal writers and artists, including Gerhard Richter and Elfriede Jelinek, that point beyond militancy and terrorism. This literature and art discloses the failures of the Far Left and registers the radical potential that RAF women actually forfeited. The book maps out a cultural history of militancy and introduces “postmilitancy” as a new critical term. It demonstrates how the most compelling examples of postmilitant culture don't just repudiate militancy but also investigate its horizons of possibility, particularly on the front of sexual politics. The book uses previously untranslated essays by Theodor Adorno and Jürgen Habermas, as well as novels by Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Judith Kuckart, Johann Kresnik's Tanztheaterstück Ulrike Meinhof and the blockbuster exhibition Regarding Terror at the Berlin Kunst-Werke. It also focuses on German cinema and provides interpretations of films by Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff and Fatih Akın. This analysis discloses dynamic junctures among several fields of inquiry: national and sexual identity, the disciplining of the militant body and the relationship between mass media and the arts.