Relying on select US government Torture Memos, this article develops the term “surveillance time” to highlight the ways in which surveillance practices, in this case within the material confines of post-9/11 detention centers, come to threaten humans’ subjectivities through temporal disruption and manipulation. While surveillance has lately been understood in digital terms, such as in corporations’ data-mining practices and in technologies like facial-recognition software, we should not neglect its material, embodied dimensions. Surveillance time ultimately asks us to reconsider how monitoring and information-harvesting practices blur the boundaries between human bodies and data. Attention to the relationship between torture and surveillance also opens up new possibilities for understanding the now-ubiquitous monitoring strategies integrated into everyday life.
Laura A. Sparks
The point of departure for this article is a description of punitive practices reported to have been employed in Achaemenian Persia around 400 BCE. On closer examination, what appears to be an example of sadistic torture proves to be a judiciary ordeal constructed in such a way as to convert the accused's body (and bodily processes) into conclusive evidence of his guilt and, simultaneously, to confirm imperial ideology. This episode provides the basis for reconsidering events at Abu Ghraib prison, where, it is argued, low-level American GIs obsessively enacted a finite set of scenarios in a desperate attempt to make their captives' bodies confirm arguments used to justify the war in Iraq as a struggle against low, dark, craven, perverse, and corrupt beings dismissable as 'terrorists'.
The Algerian War in French Discourse, 2000-2001
William B. Cohen
From the beginning of the Algerian War, the central issue for most of its critics was the use of torture. When confronted with evidence of torture, French governments during the war claimed that it was the result of aberrant behavior by individual soldiers or police officers. Yet, it was used systematically. Beginning in 1955 every regiment of the French army had an interrogation officer attached to it whose job it was to gain information by all means, including torture. Special training schools were established instructing the officers on “interrogation” techniques. Hundreds of thousands of Algerians were tortured during the war. These facts have been known for years and have been most recently documented in a dissertation based on the French army archives.
Torture porn's crowning achievements, as identified by Gregory A. Burris (2010), are the Saw and Hostel series. He argues that the Saw series represents a puritanical mind-set running amok, while the Hostel movies reflect a culture struggling to come to terms with the horrors of Abu Ghraib. This article challenges this position. It identifies thematic patterns within the Saw and Hostel films to demonstrate how the images of violence on display throughout both series tend to reinforce, rather than subvert, the popularly held belief that the Abu Ghraib scandal represented mere abuse, as opposed to torture. The article shows how these films trivialize and rationalize torture and the roles that sex and gender play in this process.
Russia and Steven Pinker’s Thesis
Nancy Shields Kollmann
brutality. Eventually European states were able to abandon theatrical public executions, cruel and unusual punishments, judicial torture, and other public displays of violence because of two interconnected trends: a growing state capacity to police deviant
The Case of Basra and the Anthropology of Excrement
In this article I demonstrate that issues surrounding excrement in Iraq intersect sites where power and order, the state and its absence, and everyday moral order and its erasure become painfully evident. In the first piece of ethnography, I recount daily walks taken with an informant through the war-torn streets of Basra (Iraq), where in some places human excrement fills the streets. The second part of the article pursues the same theme in the context of a prison, where the lack of toilet facilities becomes a physical and symbolic means of torture.
Robert L. Paquette
Most historians, even specialists in the field of slavery, know little about the largest and bloodiest slave insurrection in United States history. The revolt broke out in a sugar-producing region in the Territory of Orleans in 1811, one year before Louisiana's statehood. A disciplined army of rebels composed of men and women, African-born slaves and creole slaves, mulattoes and blacks, skilled slaves and field hands, marched down the east bank of the Mississippi River in quickstep toward New Orleans. Stunned eyewitnesses observe slaves in military formation with drums beating and flags waving. At least some of the leaders of the revolt were uniformed, mounted on horseback, and wielded rearms. Charles, a mulatto slave driver allegedly from Saint-Domingue (Haiti), led the uprising. The 1811 insurrection raises big questions about the causes and content of slave rebellion. Why did the insurrection break out when and where it did? How were slaves of different types from different plantations mobilized to revolt? Was the Louisiana insurrection influenced by the slave revolution in Saint-Domingue? Or were the causes of the revolt local? Why did free-people of color assist whites in suppressing the movement? What were the goals of the rebels? Summary justice led to the grisly executions and mutilations of scores of slaves. Did torture and terror have the desired results for the master class?
The Faucher-d'Alexis Affair of 1884
In April 1884, a scandal erupted among colonial officials stationed in the French Central African colony of Gabon. Alexis d'Alexis, a customs officer, and Faucher, a member of Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza's third expedition into the Gabonese interior, accused one another of abuses against Africans. D'Alexis declared that Faucher had tortured a Senegalese sailor, and Faucher accused D'Alexis of engaging in sexual relationships with six African boys and men on the island. Although the charges never went beyond the colonial administration's internal correspondence, the allegations of aberrant conduct and the inquiry that resulted offer a fascinating glimpse of understandings of masculinity, internal friction, and the monitoring of intimate behavior within the French colonial administration in the Scramble for Africa. This case points to the fractured nature of state regulation of sexuality in the French empire, as well as the ways different officials defined and deployed constructions of abnormal masculinity as weapons in disputes.
Satire, Censorship, and the Textual History of Troilus and Cressida
Why does the 1609 quarto of Troilus and Cressida exist in two states, each with a distinct title page (S1 and S2, Figure One)? Surely this textual doubling is the most conspicuous illustration of W.W. Greg’s admonition that Troilus is a ‘play of puzzles, in respect of its textual history no less than its interpretation’. Despite more than a century of speculation, contemporary criticism seems no closer to a satisfying solution. Traditionally, answers have focused on hypothetical market-driven preferences of the publishers, Richard Bonian and Henry Whalley: S1’s reference to performance at the Globe theatre is false because it was ‘unlikely that this play was ever performed to an audience at the Globe’ and the preface to S2 constitutes ‘an assurance that the play was designed for some private occasion or company’. Or the publishers supposed that having two different states of the title page would incite publicity and ‘stimulate sales’, or one publisher, for some unidentified reason, preferred one title page, and the other, another. Or ‘they decided to avoid a copyright dispute with His Majesty’s Servants by leaving them unnamed either in the title or the epistle’, or ‘they discovered after printing was under way that the play had held the stage only briefly but had attracted a sophisticated following’. No wonder that William Godshalk has recently chastised Troilus critics for substituting unverifiable speculation for sober interpretation of factual evidence, encouraging a disciplined return to a ‘facts first, then interpretation’ inquiry model.
What Kinds of Witness Does Literature Bear?
What follows is a personal exploration of some of the ways in which the language of literature can embody and exploit our complex, ambivalent attitudes to victim, perpetrator and bystander. I want to begin with W.H. Auden’s poem, Musée des Beaux Arts (1938), which is the source of my title.