A Phenomenology of Torture

depressionMoving from a phenomenology of the body, I will argue that torture must be understood in light of the lived-body, its projects and its pain. Drawing on Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Drew Leder, and Elizabeth Scarry, I will first develop a phenomenological description of the body in pain. This will include a description of the intersubjective life-world of the body in pain.

Using examples both from the past (Dante, judicial torture, ancient warfare and punishment) as well as from the present (Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, actions of ISIS), I will argue for a definition of torture that exceeds that of the UN convention’s definition, one that is based phenomenologically in the lived-body as an intersubjective subject that can suffer at the forces of others.


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