Theory of Change #021: Nimmi Gowrinathan on political extremism and women militants
Why political extremism is a twisted mirror of elite failure
As technology has given extremist movements a much greater ability to spread their views and carry out violence, researchers are studying radicalization now more than ever. But one area that hasn’t received enough attention is an examination of women who become militants.
Understanding radicalization is important in the United States as well, which is seeing the emergence of a far-right Christian tradition that has already carried out a number of violent acts.
What makes them want to risk their lives for a cause or become extreme? It’s a complex question with many answers for the different militant movements that have seen large numbers of female fighters, including some that seek to restrict women’s rights. Are there similarities among these women as well?
More importantly, what do the answers to these questions tell us about our own society?
In this episode, we feature Nimmi Gowrinathan. She’s the author of “Radicalizing Her,” a new book that provides a close look at the motivations of various women who have gotten involved in militant groups. She’s also the founder and director of the Politics of Sexual Violence Initiative, a global research project examining the impact of rape on women’s political identities in extremist movements. She’s also a visiting professor at the City College of New York and the founder of Adi, a policy magazine that highlights the voices of marginalized people.
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