1st Edition

Contesting Torture Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Edited By Rory Cox, Faye Donnelly, Anthony Lang Jr. Copyright 2023
    304 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    304 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This edited volume seeks to contest prevailing assumptions about torture and to consider why, despite its illegality, torture continues to be widely employed and misrepresented.

    The resurgence of torture and public justifications of it led to the central questions that this inter-disciplinary volume seeks to address: How is it possible for torture to be practiced when it is legally prohibited? What kinds of moves do agents make that render torture palatable? Why do so many ignore the evidence that torture is ineffective as an intelligence-gathering technique? Who are the victims of torture? The various contributors in the book look to history, the practices of interrogators, artistic representations, documentary films, rendition policies, political campaigns, diplomatic discourses, international legal rules, refugee practices, and cultural representations of death and the body to illuminate how torture becomes permissible. Building from the personal to the communal, and from the practical to the conceptual, the volume reflects the multivalence of torture itself. This framework enables readers at all levels better appreciate how and why torture is open to so many interpretations and applications.

    This book will be of much interest to students of International Relations, Security Studies, Terrorism Studies, Ethics, and International Legal Studies.

    Introduction: Contesting Torture: Continuing Debates, Questions and Reflections

    Rory Cox, Faye Donnelly, and Anthony F Lang, Jr

    Part I: Competing Narratives of Torture

    1. Why Perpetrators Matter

    Jonathan Luke Austin

    2. Torturing the New Barbarians

    Rory Cox

    3. Fantasy, Transgression and US Support for Torture: A Micropolitical Study

    Brent J Steele

    4. Death and Torture: Contesting Narratives and Sites of Resistance

    Faye Donnelly and Fabian Wolke

    Part II: Imaging and Seeing Torture

    5. Social Imaginaries of Truth: Zero Dark Thirty and The Report

    Juha A. Vuori

    6. Framing Torture on Screen: Negotiating the Unwatchable

    Vincent Förster

    7. Facing Torture through Art and the Afterlives of War: Behind the Mask

    Laura Mills

    Part III: Contesting Torture in Law

    8. Diplomatic Assurances and Re-writing the ‘Rules of the Game’

    Jamal Barnes

    9. Contesting the Meaning, Permissibility and Use of Torture: Enhanced Interrogation Methods and the Norm against Torture

    Andrea Birdsall

    10. Labelling, Torture and Law Enforcement in Zimbabwe

    Patrick Tom and Silas Chekera

    Part IV: Torture and Institutions

    11. Reserving the Right to Torture

    Ruth Blakeley and Sam Raphael

    12. Torture in a Land of Safety: Slow Violence and Immigration Control in the UK

    Natasha Saunders

    13. Liberalism, Torture and Global Constitutionalism

    Anthony F Lang, Jr.

    Afterword: Cynthia Enloe


    Rory Cox is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of St. Andrews and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His research explores the ethics of violence and the history of the just war tradition over a broad chronological range.

    Faye Donnelly is a Lecturer in the School of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews. Her research and teaching engage with and contribute to critical security studies.

    Anthony F. Lang Jr. is a Professor of International Political Theory in the School of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews. His research and teaching sit at the intersection of politics, law, and ethics at the global level.