Making sense of loss: Situating the Mumbai attacks of 26/11 in the context of altruistic suicide homicide


  • Tanni Chaudhuri Texas Woman’s University



-Terrorism, Altruism, Altruistic Suicide Homicide, Kashmir


A peculiar irony characterizes the perception of global terrorism—in the strong penchant to flavor it with ethno or religious centric biases or in the disavowal of any auxiliary circumstance leading up to the sporadic incidence of violence. This paper analyzes the Mumbai attacks of November 26th, 2009 from the context of altruistic suicide/homicide. The waging of war against anonymous targets in Mumbai was by all means impersonal. It could be connected to an aftermath of several factors: Kashmir, homegrown terrorism, backlash of sectarian groups or yet another manifestation of already hostile Indo-Pak relationships. The spectacle of terror that was life telecast by national and global media led to a sequel of reactions including a follow-up of Indo-Pak mutual accusations, evoking of national sentiments and analytical ruptures in south Asian intelligentsia in making sense of the loss. This paper situates the Mumbai attacks of 26/11 in the theoretical discourse on sociology of terrorism by (i) providing a scholastic definition of terrorism and its corresponding attributes that distinguishes terrorism from other sporadic acts of violence, (ii) reflects on the context of terrorism with reference to altruism as in the classical Durkhiemian tradition and (iii) analytically moves beyond the classical paradigm to redefine the terror trails of 26/11 within the emerging definitions of altruistic-suicide-homicide.