Torture and Modernity: Self, Society and State in Modern Iran

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What does the practice of torture presuppose about human beings and human society? How does one explain a society in which institutional torture persists despite massive changes in government and class structure? What, indeed, are the social foundations of modern torture? In Culture and Modernity, Darius M. Rejali investigates torture in Iran in order to understand and critically reconsider the politics and psychology of modern torture. In a world in which one out of every three governments uses torture, Rejali ...

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1994 Trade Paperback Very Good Solid overall, with tight binding. A few pen markings in bibliography only; text itself is clean.

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Overview

What does the practice of torture presuppose about human beings and human society? How does one explain a society in which institutional torture persists despite massive changes in government and class structure? What, indeed, are the social foundations of modern torture? In Culture and Modernity, Darius M. Rejali investigates torture in Iran in order to understand and critically reconsider the politics and psychology of modern torture. In a world in which one out of every three governments uses torture, Rejali points to a common past, one shared by Iranians and non-Iranians alike, that supports this practice."My aim,” Rejali writes, "is to use the study of torture, and of punishment more generally, to unearth deep and important assumptions about society, history, politics, and the 'good life’ that I believe underpin the life of a torturer.”Exploring the four principle explanations of modern torture—those offered by human rights activists, modernization theorists, state terrorist theorists such as Noam Chomsky, and post-structuralists, especially Michel Foucault—Rejali asks, "Do the accounts of political violence that we have developed over the past century have any real… explanatory or even moral significance… in today’s world, or are they just consolations in the face of events we cannot fully understand?” His answers lead him to reconsider how Middle Eastern and European history are written and move him to question cherished assumptions about state formation, modernization, and postmodernism.Torture and Modernity is a deeply unsettling book—it contains not only graphic verbal passages, but an extensive photographic essay—yet it is intended to serve as a guide to rethinking current attitudes and reshaping political policies. How people are punished necessarily invokes conceptions of what human beings are and what they might become. A work such as this offers an understanding of what it means to "become modern,” and it is only when this notion of modernity is made manifest and analyzed that one can firmly grasp the prospects for a world without torture.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Illustrations
Preface
1 Introduction 1
How to Study Torture 2
In What Way Is Torture Modern? 4
How to Read This Book 7
Pt. 1 Disciplines and Tortures 11
Foucault's Iran
2 Qajar Punishments 18
The Offense of Bodies 19
The Conduct of Bodies 21
The Power to Take Life 26
Carnival of Signs 29
Shahs and Clerics 31
Conclusion 32
3 Disciplinary Practices 33
Disciplinary Matrices 35
Imitating Discipline 41
4 Disciplinary Society 43
Military Reforms 44
Political Reforms 47
Medical and Moral Reforms 49
Progressive Reforms 52
Penal Reforms 54
Police Reforms 56
Tribal and Rural Reforms 58
Disciplinary Society 60
5 Carceral Society 62
The Model of Delinquency 63
Case Files 67
The Carceral Clinic 70
Open Prisons 73
Proactive Policing 77
What Is Torture? 79
Pt. 2 Tutelage and Torture 83
6 Protecting Children 86
The Moral Freedom of Rich Families 89
Socializing the Modern Working Class 93
Tehran's Moral Geography 99
7 Creating a Moral Public 101
Pastoral Politics 101
The New Clergy 105
The War Against Corruption 107
Tutelary Policing 109
Conclusion 112
8 Convictions into Prisons 113
Carceral Practices 113
Tutelary Practices 118
Islam and Punishment 121
Reasons of State 127
Revolution and Terror 130
Pt. 3 Orienting Modernity 133
9 Questioning the Subject 135
10 The Rationalization of Iranians 145
Punishment and Rationalization 146
Historical Ontologies 149
State Capacity 156
11 How Not to Talk About Torture 160
The Humanist Approach 160
The Developmentalist Approach 165
The State Terrorist Approach 167
Nietzsche's Children 170
The Road from Here 173
Appendix A: A Study of Political Visibility 177
Appendix B: A Chronology of Events in Modern Iranian History, 1790-1991 207
Appendix C: A Glossary of Farsi and Arabic Terms 211
Notes 215
Selected Bibliography 255
About the Book and Author 277
Index 279
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