2023-2024 Catalog

CTSJ 204 Torture, Sex, and Metaphysics: Dehumanization Before Abu Ghraib and After

The abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the US military’s Abu Ghraib Prison and the terrible photographs that circulated giving testimony to that abuse brought torture into our public discourse and became a point of intense political engagement in the US and around the world. This course will examine the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used during the War on Terror as well as the legal and policy justifications that supported them.  We will place these practices and justifications within the broader context of colonial power, looking at the ways torture and sexual violence were deployed by other nations.  Beyond its use as a punishment or deterrent, we will trace the use of torture back through Western history, to its use in religious and political conversions and finally back to the origins of Western metaphysics in the Ancient Greek use of violence and dehumanization in the formulation of our conception of truth itself.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Global Connections
  • Pre-1800