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Theorizing about Torture

Cheesman, Nick

Description

What are the possibilities for theorizing torture independently from the question of whether or not it “works”? This question has to be posed because to ask whether or not torture works is to narrow our focus to its instrumentalities; to tolerate largely irrelevant debate, based on unrealistic assumptions, about acceptable circumstances for torture’s use. It is to give rise to theorizing aimed not at understanding torture but at justifying it, by contriving to have us view the practice...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorCheesman, Nick
dc.date.accessioned2021-08-23T00:58:06Z
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/244971
dc.description.abstractWhat are the possibilities for theorizing torture independently from the question of whether or not it “works”? This question has to be posed because to ask whether or not torture works is to narrow our focus to its instrumentalities; to tolerate largely irrelevant debate, based on unrealistic assumptions, about acceptable circumstances for torture’s use. It is to give rise to theorizing aimed not at understanding torture but at justifying it, by contriving to have us view the practice from the standpoint of a hypothetical torturer. To theorize about torture would seem to call for a different kind of question, one concerned with what work torture does. A question of this sort would invite us to attend to the relation of the torture situation—in which a totally dominated person is subjected to torment inflicted in the name of a public authority, for a function or functions that remains to be determined—to the state idea. Beyond torture’s instrumentality, its epistemology of pain, and debates about human dignity, it is the special structure of domination, the arbitrariness of interference, and its relationship to public authority that make torture distinctive, and politically significant.
dc.description.sponsorshipThis item was commisioned by Institute for Advanced Study IAS
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.publisherInstitute for Advanced Study
dc.rights©2017 Unpublished by Nick Cheesman
dc.sourceThe Occasional Papers of the School of Social Science
dc.source.urihttps://www.sss.ias.edu/publications/occasional
dc.titleTheorizing about Torture
dc.typeWorking/Technical Paper
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
dc.date.issued2017
local.identifier.absfor160606 - Government and Politics of Asia and the Pacific
local.identifier.ariespublicationu5530201xPUB493
local.publisher.urlhttps://www.ias.edu/
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationCheesman, Nick, College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU
local.description.embargo2099-12-31
local.bibliographicCitation.issue59
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage1
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage27
dc.date.updated2020-11-23T10:53:45Z
local.bibliographicCitation.placeofpublicationPrinceton, USA.
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access via publisher website
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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