Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Reading Hobbes’s Sovereign into a Burmese Narrative of Police Torture

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law

Throughout February 2012, a court sitting at Myanmar’s central prison recorded a defendant’s narrative of torture by policemen to have him confess to a bombing two years prior. How was this record made possible? What does the narrative reveal about the relationship of police torturers to the political community giving them authority to act? Working from Agamben’s intuition that in the moment of violence the policeman occupies an area symmetrical to the sovereign, inasmuch as his use of violence is justified in the name of public order, I suggest the account of police torture in this case can be explained in terms of Hobbes’s theory of attributed action. Like Hobbes’s sovereign, the Burmese policemen had the prerogative to decide when and how to use violence against the detained subject on behalf of the state. That the defendant could later recount to a judge the torture done to him was only because he lacked standing to lay claims against sovereign police, who he himself, as a member of the political community, had authorised. Ironically, the record of his narrative was possible precisely because his claims were without efficacy.

Affiliations: 1: Fellow, Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University; Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 2016–17


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation