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Torture and the Twilight of Empire


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This book interprets torture not as an incidental if frequent characteristic of neocolonial conflict, but as one of its major elements. Using the Algerian war as a case study, Lazreg argues that to the French forces the psychological and political significance of their policy of torture was far greater than its operational significance. Her work is certainly pertinent to the present. -- Peter Paret, Institute for Advanced Study

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix Abbreviations xi Introduction 1 Part I: Imperial Politics and Torture Chapter 1: Revolutionary-War Theory 15 Chapter 2: Militarization of the Colonial State 34 Chapter 3: Psychological Action 61 Chapter 4: Models of Pacification: From Nietzsche to Sun Tzu 87 Part II: Ethnography of Torture Chapter 5: Doing Torture 111 Chapter 6: Women: Between Torture and Military Feminism 145 Part III: Ideology of Torture Chapter 7: Conscience, Imperial Identity, and Torture 173 Chapter 8: The Christian Church and Antisubversive War 191 Chapter 9: Fanon, Sartre, and Camus 213 Part IV: Reflections on Torture Chapter 10: Moralizing Torture 237 Chapter 11: Repetitions: From Algiers to Baghdad 253 Notes 271 Glossary 309 References and Selected Bibliography 311 Index 323

About the Author

Marnia Lazreg is professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her books include "The Eloquence of Silence: Algerian Women in Question".


"In Torture and the Twilight of Empire, Marnia Lazreg draws resourcefully on military history and sociological and cultural analysis to explain how the French colonial state tried to forestall its own collapse by terrorizing the Algerian population in viciously creative ways. She provides a fascinating intellectual history of modern torture; an unflinching empirical account, or 'ethnography of torture.'"--Priya Satia, Times Literary Supplement "Nothing short of a thorough anatomy of torture and cruelty, their methods, justifications, functions and consequences both on the victims as well as the perpetrators... The author effectively argues that the occupying Western powers have not only justified their systematic use of torture and cruelty as a regrettable but necessary means of protecting and saving Western civilization from those 'who hate our way of life' but they have also used this argument as a pretext for invading and colonizing those nations that dare to challenge Western politico-economic hegemony... Recommended reading."--Muhammad Khan, Muslim News "In this brilliant and disturbing book [Marnia Lazreg] looks at the intimate relationship between torture and colonial domination through a rigorous examination of French tactics during the Algerian war from 1954-62."--Will Podmore, Tribune "The philosophical analyses can be challenging to grasp, but for those looking to better understand the way torture figures into a military occupation, Lazreg's book provides an insightful and detailed account of the Algerian model."--Hannah Fleury, International Socialist Review "As a highly original, yet solid, analysis of the political sociology, psychology, and anthropology of torture, Lazreg's research establishes critical connections between Algeria and the Shock and Awe Campaign of the Second Gulf War with the Bush White House years marked by state terror abroad and at home... This book is required reading for all."--Julia Clancy-Smith, Review of Middle Eastern Studies

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