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Alternative Sites of Accountability for Torture: The Publication of War on Terror Books as ‘Memory-Justice’

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This article examines alternative sites of accountability for torture carried out in the war on terror, where the Obama Administration refused to engage in official accountability. It is concerned with a less examined feature of civil society’s efforts at seeking accountability: the publication of key documents from the war on terror as books. I focus on two, one based on a congressional report on torture and the other on the diary of a current Guantánamo Bay detainee. I argue that through publishing these already existing texts as books, civil society actors helped amplify, circulate, and make more permanent evidence of post-9.11 torture. In doing so they contributed to the creation of a ‘counterpublic’, reforming what is publicly thinkable about the torture policies of the Bush Administration, and achieved a form of ‘memory-justice’, morally grounding past crimes in the present and taking responsibility as a political community for righting past wrongs.

Affiliations: 1: Post-Doctoral Fellow, School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland, Canberra, Australia


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