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Transnational Fields of Torture

English title Transnational Fields of Torture
Applicant Austin Jonathan
Number 155423
Funding scheme Doc.CH
Research institution
Institution of higher education Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies - IHEID
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.09.2014 - 31.08.2016
Approved amount 145'146.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Political science
General history (without pre-and early history)
Sociology

Keywords (7)

International Political Sociology; International Relations; Torture; Political Science; Political Violence; Middle East; Transnationalism

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
La torture fait partie des forme de violence politique les plus exécrées en tant que pratique largement condamnée à l’échelle internationale et légalement interdite. Néanmoins, en 2014, Amnesty International a dénoncé qu’entre 2009 et 2014, 141 pays pratiquaient toujours la torture. Ce projet cherche donc à explorer ce paradoxe : en dépit d’une condamnation quasi-universelle, les pratiques de torture continuent de se faire elles aussi, de façon quasi-universelle.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs de recherche

Ce projet examine la torture en tant que forme transnationale de violence politique. Le projet retrace en particulier le lien entre les pratiques locales de torture en Syrie et en Irak et leurs espaces de violence transnationaux plus larges . Les moyens spécifiques utilisés pour la diffusion d’expertise (manuels, films), des technologies de la violence (électricité, avions) et des experts (agents des renseignements, sociétés militaires privées) sont ainsi reproduits à partir de leur implication locale dans la torture, d’abord sur le plan temporel en commençant par leur genèse historique, puis sur le plan spatial à travers leurs trajectoires géographiques. Dans ce but, la méthodologie utilisée pour ce projet consiste en un travail ethnographique sur le terrain, une recherche micro-historique et enfin, au codage ethno-méthodologique d’un ensemble plus large de cas de torture. Enfin, l'ambition de ce projet est d'expliquer comment une norme de la tortue est devenue possible malgré son interdiction absolue au niveau international.

Contexte scientifique et social

Ce projet se situe, aussi bien théoriquement que méthodologiquement, au sein d’une littérature émergente en sociologie de politique internationale et en anthropologie politique. Plus largement, il fait aussi partie du champ de la théorie sociale. De manière pratique, il contribue, sur le plan sociopolitique, aux tentatives actuelles de lutte contre la torture conduites par des ONG et autres organisations internationales et locales.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 30.07.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Torture and the Material-Semiotic Networks of Violence Across Borders
Austin Jonathan Luke (2016), Torture and the Material-Semiotic Networks of Violence Across Borders, in International Political Sociology, 10(1), 3-21.
Becoming a Torturer: Towards a Global Ergonomics of Care
Austin Jonathan Luke, Becoming a Torturer: Towards a Global Ergonomics of Care, in International Review of the Red Cross, 1-21.
Doing and Mediating Critique
Austin Jonathan Luke, Bellanova Rocco, Kaufmann Mareile (ed.), Doing and Mediating Critique, Security Dialogue, Oslo.
Hot Tea With Sugar and the Translation(s) of Torture
Austin Jonathan Luke, Hot Tea With Sugar and the Translation(s) of Torture, in Berling TV., Gad UP., Peterson JL., Wæver O (ed.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1-20.
We have never been civilised: Torture and the Materiality of World Political Binaries
Austin Jonathan Luke, We have never been civilised: Torture and the Materiality of World Political Binaries, in European Journal of International Relations, 1-21.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Small Worlds of Violence Talk given at a conference 10th Pan-European Conference on International Relations, EISA, Izmir, Turkey. 08.09.2016 Izmir, Turkey Austin Jonathan;
Copenhagen Business School Seminar Series Individual talk The Sentimentality of Evil: Torture and Biopolitics from Below 31.05.2016 Copenhagen Business School, Denmark Austin Jonathan;
New Perspectives on Political Violence Talk given at a conference Ergonomics of Violence 12.05.2016 Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding; Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland Austin Jonathan;
Centre for Advanced Security Theory Seminar Series Individual talk Transnational Fields of Torture 20.04.2016 Centre for Advanced Security Theory, University of Copenhagen, Denmark Austin Jonathan;
International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Conference, Atlanta, United States. Talk given at a conference Disappearing and Reappearing Practices of Political Violence 18.03.2016 Atlanta, United States of America Austin Jonathan;
International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Conference, Atlanta, United States. Talk given at a conference The Symmetrical Sociotechnical Mediations of Science and Torture 18.03.2016 Atlanta, United States of America Austin Jonathan;
Centre for the Resolution of International Conflicts, Advisory Board Workshop Talk given at a conference Visual Knowledge and Osmotic Pedagogies of Violence 25.01.2016 Centre for the Resolution of International Conflicts, University of Copenhagen, Denmark Austin Jonathan;
Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts Seminar Series Individual talk Transnational Fields of Torture 14.12.2015 Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts, University of Copenhagen, Denmark Austin Jonathan;
9th Pan-European Conference on International Relations, EISA, Giardini Naxos, Italy. Talk given at a conference The Standing Reserve of Violence 23.09.2015 Giardini Naxos, Italy Austin Jonathan;
Virtual Zones of Peace and Conflict Workshop 2 Talk given at a conference Being-Mutamash and Being-at-peace: Virtual transformations of the Middle Eastern literary milieu 19.08.2015 Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway Austin Jonathan;
The Orient-Institut Beirut Seminar Series Individual talk Learning & Forgetting Violence: Cinema and the Visual Circulation of Atrocity 31.03.2015 Orient-Institut Beirut, Lebanon Austin Jonathan;
Invited Lecture, Graduate Institute, Geneva Individual talk The Globalization of Evil: Torture and Social Theory 10.03.2015 The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland Austin Jonathan;
International Studies Association Venture Research Workshop 2015 Talk given at a conference The Visual Inscription and Circulation of the Standing-Reserve of Violence 27.02.2015 New Orleans, United States of America Austin Jonathan;
International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Conference, New Orleans, United States. Talk given at a conference Theorizing a Parasitic Ethnography in/of Fragments 21.02.2015 New Orleans, United States of America Austin Jonathan;
International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Conference 2015 Talk given at a conference Emergenc(e/y)? Dehumanize and objectify! Towards a microsociological dismantling of the standing-reserves of atrocity 20.02.2015 New Orleans, United States of America Austin Jonathan;
Virtual Zones of Peace and Conflict Workshop Talk given at a conference Visual Breaching Emotions in the Field: Totem, Tattoo, & Hezbollah 13.01.2015 Centre for the Resolution of International Conflicts, University of Copenhagen, Denmark Austin Jonathan;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
New Perspectives on Political Violence 12.05.2016 Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding, Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
A Portrait of the Syrian Torturer Talk 03.10.2016 Swedish Red Cross Offices, Malmo, Sweden Austin Jonathan;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions A Portrait of the Syrian Torturer International 2016

Awards

Title Year
Best Paper in International Political Sociology presented at the 2015 International Studies Association (ISA) Conference. 2015

Abstract

This thesis examines torture as a transnationally enacted form of political violence from an International Political Sociology perspective. More specifically, the project seeks to draw on the microsociological lens of Actor-Network Theory (ANT) in order to trace the local enaction of torture practices in, initially, Syria and Iraq, which stand as two "global fracture points" of violence, to use Carolyn Nordstrom's terms, to their wider transnational fields or spaces of violence. Particular mediums of knowledge transport (manuals, films, etc.), violence technologies (electricity, airplanes, etc.), and experts (intelligence agents, private security companies) are thus followed in this project from thick descriptions of their local articulation at moments of torture backwards, first in time to their historical genesis and, then, in space through their geographical trajectories. Toward this end the thesis draws on a three-stage methodological repertoire of ethnographic fieldwork in Syria and Iraq, microhistorical research and, finally, the ethnomethodological coding of a (geographically) wider set of cases of torture. Convinced that exploring political violences like torture analytically requires a focus on their conditions of possibility above their moral, legal, or institutional roots, the thesis ultimately comes to outline how a ‘norm of torture’ can exist and consistently reappear across the globe despite the jus cogens norm against torture. This understanding of the how-possible of torture moves, furthermore, to allow the provision of insights into how the transnational enaction of torture practices can be disrupted more effectively than it currently is.
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