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State Violence

Punishment, the Body and Comparative State Violence: the ‘peculiar Institution’ and ‘the Dirty War’

Jon Shute, from the University of Manchester Law School, made a contribution to the 2012 Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology, in the category “Criminal Justice and Human Rights,” under the title “Punishment, the Body and Comparative State Violence: the ‘peculiar Institution’ and ‘the Dirty War’”. Here is the abstract: Recently, David Garland (2010) has analysed the late modern form of capital punishment in the US with specific (2011) regard to the historically necessary ‘disappearance’ of the dying and dead body from public view, together with its periodic legal- and activist-inspired reappearance. Death and bodily suffering must, in short, be hidden in order to retain institutional legitimacy and avoid offending broadly ‘civilised’ public sentiments. This paper, proceeding from a new ERC project on the treatment of the human remains of mass violence, argues that while these ideas may have currency in the American domestic context, they overlook that country’s simultaneous promulgation of brutalising counter-insurgency tactics in various foreign theatres of conflict since WWII. Using the example of Argentina’s ‘dirty war’ (the subject of the project’s first study mission), the paper analyses the US role in supporting a punitive regime where disappearance, torture and destruction of the body were central to a system of terror-based deterrence and incapacitation, and where the semi-visibility of semideniable violence dominated public sentiments in the service of an ideologically-favoured social elite. The problems such an account creates for State-level ‘civilising’ discourses of punishment are discussed.

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  • “Punishment, the Body and Comparative State Violence: the ‘peculiar Institution’ and ‘the Dirty War’”, by Jon Shute (Proceedings)


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  • Article Name: State Violence
  • Author: Shelby Perry
  • Description: Punishment, the Body and Comparative State Violence: the ‘peculiar Institution’ and ‘the Dirty War’ Jon Shute, from the [...]

This entry was last updated: April 7, 2020

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