University of California, Santa Barbara

Torture and the Future

Perspectives from the Humanities


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"Into the Light of Day: Torture, Human Rights, and the War on Terror"

Thursday, January 18 / 8:00 pm / UCSB Campbell Hall / Free

MARK DANNER (University of California, Berkeley and Bard College)

Mark Danner is longtime staff writer at the New Yorker, frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, author of Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror (New York, New York Review Book, 2004).

Presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures as part of the Critical Issues in America series "Torture and the Future" with generous support from Phyllis de Picciotto and Stan Roden.

Borders will sell books at the event. Author signing.

The video piece United States Code Section 2340A will be screened at this event; please click here
for more information.


"A Short History of Psychological Torture: Its Discovery, Propagation, Perfection & Legalization"

Thursday, February 1 / 4:00 pm / UCSB Campbell Hall / Free

ALFRED McCOY (University of Wisconsin)

Alfred McCoy is an internationally renowned authority on the history of CIA torture. He is the author of A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Metropolitan Books, 2006). His first book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (New York, 1972), originally sparked controversy when the CIA tried to block its publication. After three English editions and translation into nine foreign languages, this study is now regarded as the “classic” work on the global drug trade (Revised Edition, New York, 2003). His monograph Closer Than Brothers (New Haven, 1999) studies the impact of CIA torture training upon the Philippine military.



Thursday, February 8 / 4:00 pm / McCune Conference Room, Humanities & Social Sciences Building, 6th Floor / Free

UCSB Faculty Panel with Lisa Hajjar, Kaia Stern, Avery Gordon, Richard Falk, and Russell Samolsky

We hope this informal discussion between faculty, undergraduate and graduate students will give UCSB students insight into their professors' thinking, teaching and writing on the crucial issue of torture and human rights. Faculty will share the ways they have worked or are working on the issue of torture in their particular field/discipline. A discussion with the audience will follow the presentation.




Thursday, February 22 / 4:00 pm / McCune Conference Room, Humanities & Social Sciences Building, 6th Floor / Free

Panel with John Nava, painter and creator of the recent series “Neo-Icons”, including “Signing Statement Law or An Alternate Set of Procedures”; Stephen Eisenman, professor of Art History at Northwestern University, Evanston; Abigail Solomon-Godeau, professor of Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and Avery Gordon, professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The video piece United States Code Section 2340A will be screened at this event; please click here
for more information.

Photo by Nick T. Spark

Following the panel, artist Hector Aristizabal will present his show "NightWind", a solo with live music, exploring his experiences as a torture victim in Colombia. The show has been touring the United States and had an acclaimed run at the RedCat in Los Angeles. The audience will be invited to participate in a brief Theatre of the Oppressed workshop and a Q&A following the performance. "NightWind" (pictured above) was created in collaboration with Enzo Fina and Diane Lefer and is sponsored by the performance Studies Research Group at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UCSB.



Friday, April 6 / 8:30 am - 5:45 pm / UCSB Centennial House / Free

A graduate student conference organized by the Consortium for Literature, Theory and Culture.

8:30 - 9:00 - Coffee and Pastries
9:00 -10:30 - Panel 1
10:30 -10:45 - Break
10:45-12:15 - Panel 2
12:15 - 1:45 - Lunch
1:45 - 3:15 - Panel 3
3:30 - 4:45 - Keynote Speaker: Alicia Portnoy and Gail Wronsky
4:45 - 5:45 - Reception

Keynote Speakers: Alicia Partnoy (poet, activist, torture survivor and author of The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival in Argentina) and Gail Wronsky (poet and translator of both Alicia Partnoy and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo)

Both the humanities and torture have historically been bound up with the pursuit of truth and knowledge. This conference will probe how we know torture and how we torture to know (or to suppress knowing). We will also investigate the conceptual limits and ethical boundaries of this knowledge roduction at both extremes.

As scholars in the humanities - a project intimately concerned with the necessary and inescapable bond between language and practice - we must not be silent in the face of current linguistic manipulations that have redefined torture to justify its practice within the limits of law.

In addition to ethical and legal epistemologies, this conference will take up the particular knowledge of torture survivors as well. In the words of Jean Améry, "If from the experience of torture any knowledge at all remains that goes beyond the plain nightmarish, it is that of a great amazement and foreignness in the world that cannot be compensated by any sort of subsequent human communication" (1980: 39). We seek to acknowledge and know better this permanent foreignness, how we allow it to come into the world, and the extent to which communication, though it will never serve as compensation, might be a ay of looking forward.

Call for Papers. Click here for a map to Centennial House.




Monday, April 23 / 8:00 pm / UCSB Campbell Hall / Free

JAMES YEE, former U.S. Army Muslim Chaplain at Guantanamo Bay

Click here for the event poster.

The video piece United States Code Section 2340A will be screened at this event; please click here for more information.



Thursday, April 26 / 4:00 pm / Engineering Sciences Building 1001 / Free

SCOTT HORTON, attorney and president of the International League for Human Rights, has worked with Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, and others.
GITA GUTIERREZ, attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. She represents Mohammed al Qahtani and other detainees held at Guantánamo since 2002.



Thursday, May 10 / 4:00 pm / McCune Conference Room, Humanities & Social Sciences Building, 6th Floor / Free

We hope this informal discussion between faculty, undergraduate and graduate students will give UCSB students insight into their professors' thinking, teaching and writing on the crucial issue of torture and human rights. Faculty will share the ways they have worked or are working on the issue of torture in their particular field/discipline. A discussion with the audience will follow the presentation.

Jack Talbott received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966. His books include The Politics of Educational Reform in France, 1919-1940 (Princeton University Press, 1969); The War Without a Name; France in Algeria, 1954-1962 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1980); The Pen-and-Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King's Navy, 1778-1813 (Frank Cass, 1998); and Europe, 1945 to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2005). He is working on a book tentatively called "Into the Mouth of Hell; Combat Stress from Bull Run to Falluja." Talbott has taught at Princeton, Stanford, the United States Naval War College, and UCSB, where he has been Professor of History since 1979.

Professor of French and Theater, Jody Enders is the author of The Medieval Theater of Cruelty (Cornell, 1998), which explores the rhetorical ideology and disturbingly theatrical practice of torture. Her Rhetoric and the Origins of Medieval Drama (Cornell, 1992) won the inaugural Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize from the Modern Language Association; and her Death by Drama and Other Medieval Urban Legends (Chicago, 2002), was awarded the Barnard Hewitt Award from the American Society for Theatre Research. Affiliated with both the Medieval Studies Program and the Department of English, she is also completing her term as the Editor of Theatre Survey. Profile.

Myriam J. A. Chancy, Ph. D., is a Canadian writer of Haitian origin born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in Quebec City and Winnipeg. Her first novel, Spirit of Haiti ( London : Mango Publications, 2003), was a finalist in the Best First Book Category, Canada/Caribbean region, of the Commonwealth Prize 2004. She is also the author of two books of literary criticism, Framing Silence : Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women (Rutgers UP, 1997) and Searching for Safe Spaces : Afro-Caribbean Women Writers in Exile (Temple UP, 1997). Searching for Safe Spaces was awarded an Outstanding Academic Book Award 1998 by the Choice, the journal of the American Library Association. Her second novel, The Scorpion’s Claw (Peepal Tree Press, 2005) has just been released in the UK and North America. The former Editor-in-Chief of the Ford funded academic/arts journal, Meridians : feminism, race, transnationalism and a former Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Arizona State University and Smith College, she is currently a Visiting Associate Professor with the Center for Black Studies and Department of Black Studies at UCSB. She is completing her third novel entitled, The Loneliness of Angels, a memoir, Fractured, and a work of philosophical inquiry entitled, Floating Islands : Cosmopolitanism, Transnationalism and Racial Identity Formation.

Gabriele Schwab is Chancellor’s Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Irvine. She is also a Faculty Associate in the Department of Anthropology and former Director of the Critical Theory Institute. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Heisenberg Fellowship and was a Research Fellow in Residence at the Australian National University. In addition, since 2001 she is affiliated with the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute and is practicing as a psychoanalyst in Newport Beach. Her books in English include Subjects without Selves. Transitional Texts in Modern Fiction (Harvard UP, 1994), and The Mirror-and the Killer-Queen. Otherness in Literary Language (Indiana UP, 1997 ) Accelerating Possessions: Global Futures of Property and Personhood, co-edited with William Maurer,(Columbia UP, 2006) and a Special Issue of Postcolonial Studies, co-edited with John Cash, titled The Cultural Unconscious and the Postcolonizing Process (Melbourne, 2005). Her work has been translated into Bulgarian, French, Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish. Work in progress includes a book on Haunting Legacies: Histories of Violence and Transgenerational Trauma and a book on the anthropological turn in literary studies titled Imaginary Ethnographies as well as an anthology on Derrida, Deleuze and Psychoanalysis (in press). She is also working with Native American writer Simon J. Ortiz on a collaborative book of creative non-fiction titled Children of Fire, Children of Water. Profile


Related Events

Film Screening of The Road to Guantanamo (Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, 2006)

November 27, 2006 / UCSB Campbell Hall / 7:30 pm

Attendance: 316


Film stills from The Road to Guantanamo


Friday, May 18 / UCSB MultiCultural Center / Free


Colin Dayan, professor of English at Vanderbilt University, author of Haiti, History, and the Gods (1995, 1998),The Story of Cruel and Unusual (2007), and the forthcoming Held in the Body of the State will present her current work-in-progress: "Due Process and Lethal Confinement."

Lisa Hajjar is the chair of the Law and Society Program at the University of California Santa Barbara. She is the author of Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza(2005). Her publications have appeared in "The Nation", in Amnesty International's periodical "Amnesty Now", and in many other journals and collections. Currently, she is working on a book about American torture and the role of lawyers.

Barbara Harlow, professor of English at the University of Texas and American University in Cairo; author, among others, of Resistance Literature and editor of Empire Archives, whose research focuses on cultural politics and political cultures; third world studies; critical theory; prison and resistance writings and postcolonial studies, particularly Anglophone African and modern Arabic literatures and cultures.

Darius Rejali, professor of Political Science at Reed College, nationally recognized expert on government torture and interrogation, author of Torture and Modernity: Self, Society and State in Modern Iran (1994) and of the forthcoming Torture and Democracy and Approaches to Violence.

George Hunsinger, professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and organizer of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture is the author of Disruptive Grace. Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth.



Saturday, May 19 / 8:00 p.m. / UCSB MultiCultural Center Theater

The acclaimed London and Off-Broadway play by Victoria Brittain & Gillian Slovo, from spoken evidence. Based on the personal stories of detainees in Guantánamo Bay, the play explores how democratic principles and human rights have been violated in the name of national security during the 'war on terror'.

Directed by Nancy Kawalek



Thursday, May 31 / 4:00 - 5:30pm / UCSB MultiCultural Center Lounge

Do extraordinary emergencies require extraordinary measures?
Are moral absolutes inviolable or can they be set aside?
What about the "ticking bombs"?
Are 24 and Commander in Chief completely bogus or right on the mark?
What is "cruel, inhuman or degrading"? Can we live with "torture lite"?

Come to this campus forum for UCSB students and let your voice be heard.
Moderated by graduate students Karen Bishop and Allison Schifani



CAUTIVA ("Captive"), Gaston Biraben, 2003
Monday, May 21 /
9:00pm / UCSB Campbell Hall

GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB, Rory Kennedy, 2007
Wednesday, May 23 / 7:00pm / UCSB Campbell Hall



Two lectures in support of Amnesty International's Denounce Torture Initiative

Wednesday, April 25 / 7:00 pm / Central Branch of the Santa Barbara Public Library, Faulkner Gallery / Free

Lawyer Michael Rapkin currently represents an alleged enemy combatant who is imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This required Michael to sue the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense to challenge his client's unlawful detention. He has been to Guantanamo Bay to meet with his client who has been imprisoned there for over four years, during which time he wastortured.

Eric Sears is the project manager for Amnesty International USA's Denounce Torture initiative. He is responsible for overseeing the organization's day-to-day campaigning and policy work aimed at stopping the use of torture and inhuman treatment in the US-led "war on terror." Eric has been on staff at Amnesty for nearly four years and has held a variety of posts, including serving as a member of the Iraq Crisis Response Team, where he managed the organization's grassroots response to human rights violations in the war. He holds degrees in peace and conflict studies and political science from Saint Louis University.

Discussion with the audience to follow presentation. Sponsored by Amnesty International and the ACLU. More info:

Two films in Arts & Lectures' Santa Barbara Human Rights Film Festival (May 21, 22 & 23)

Monday, May 21 / 9:00 pm / UCSB Campbell Hall

"Cautiva" (Captive) - Gaston Biraben, 2003, 113 minutes

Wednesday, May 23 / 7:00 pm / UCSB Campbell Hall

"Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" - Rory Kennedy, 2007, 81 minutes


Main Page | Project Description | Events/Lectures | Coordinators | Links | Giving | Contact