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This book provides a brief but wide-ranging history of torture in Europe and America as well as an analysis of its return in the aftermath of the 'war on terror'. During the state of exception declared in the wake of 9/11 2001, the Bush administration judicially sanctioned interrogation techniques that violated the ban of torture in US and Public International Law. While Barack Obama promised to restore the torture ban and habeas corpus, these practices have in fact expanded under his administration.
By which logic could torture, a practice associated with the autocratic regimes of medieval and early modern Europe and contemporary dictatorships be introduced in a liberal democratic system of justice? What were the roles of public officials, government lawyers, elected representatives, and professionals (psychiatrists, behavioural scientists, anthropologists, physicians, interrogators)? What do we know about those tortured? What does the return of torture entail for us who are not tortured? What does it mean for our political system and the future of global order?
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Mattias Gardell is Professor & Nathan Söderblom Chair of Comparative Religion, Uppsala University, Sweden.
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