Conceptualising the Phenomenon of Femicide as an Embodiment of Symbolic Violence


  • Aastha Mishra Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.



Femicide, Symbolic Violence, Physical Violence, Habitus, Field, Qualitative Research Methodology


The following paper intends to employ and consider Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of Symbolic Violence as a theoretical avenue to examine and conceptualise the phenomenon of femicide. The primary goal here is to conduct a philosophical investigation into the gender-biased practice of femicide in order to eventually construct and exhibit the affinity between the generally deemed elementary-physical and the complementary-symbolic facet of this category of violence. To be precise, by categorically alluding to Bourdieu’s notion of habitus and field, the paper attempts to demonstrate how the issue of femicide is substantially embedded in the symbolic schema. I centrally argue for the importance of re-conceptualising femicide as a continuum of symbolic form of violence in order to demonstrate that femicide does not solely necessitate and imply the perceptible physical act of the killing of females, rather, it also involves symbolic connotations. I recognise and expostulate that these symbolic connotations denote the prevalence of unfair and unjust state of affairs and the fact that physical violence is an embodied manifestation of these mundane state of affairs. Towards the end, I show that if we comprehend femicide in view of both the elementary-physical and the complementary-symbolic constituents, we eventually ensue an analogue between them, thereby breaking the physical-symbolic dichotomy.
Two fundamental questions that shall be addressed here are- “how can we re-conceptualise femicide by giving thematic consideration to the category of symbolic violence?” and secondly, “what does this re-conceptualisation channel about the long-established physical-symbolic dichotomy with regards to the phenomenon of femicide?”

Author Biography

Aastha Mishra, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Centre for Philosophy, School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India.


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