Thursday, July 25, 2013

What is Lisa Stampnitzky reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Lisa Stampnitzky, author of Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented "Terrorism".

Her entry begins:
Right now, I'm reading a number of books on human rights and the laws of war, as I dive into a new research project on the politics of human rights and the 'legalization' of torture in the U.S. after 9/11.

Political scientist Kathryn Sikkink's The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions Are Changing World Politics (W.W. Norton, 2011), describes the rise of a new mechanism for enforcing human rights: the prosecution of individual officials for state crimes, perhaps most famously illustrated by the 1998 extradition of former Chilean dictator Pinochet. Most intriguingly, Sikkink suggests that this development can help us to understand one of the most puzzling shifts in the recent history of human rights: why the U.S. government not only engaged in torture and other violations of human rights after 9/11, but documented and defended these practices in a series of official legal documents. While state officials in earlier periods might have relied upon secrecy and denial to cover up human rights violations, the "justice cascade" has...[read on]
About Disciplining Terror, from the publisher:
Since 9/11 we have been told that terrorists are pathological evildoers, beyond our comprehension. Before the 1970s, however, hijackings, assassinations, and other acts we now call 'terrorism' were considered the work of rational strategic actors. 'Disciplining Terror' examines how political violence became 'terrorism,' and how this transformation ultimately led to the current 'war on terror.' Drawing upon archival research and interviews with terrorism experts, Lisa Stampnitzky traces the political and academic struggles through which experts made terrorism, and terrorism made experts. She argues that the expert discourse on terrorism operates at the boundary - itself increasingly contested - between science and politics, and between academic expertise and the state. Despite terrorism now being central to contemporary political discourse, there have been few empirical studies of terrorism experts. This book investigates how the concept of terrorism has been developed and used over recent decades.
Learn more about Disciplining Terror at the Cambridge University Press website.

Writers Read: Lisa Stampnitzky.

--Marshal Zeringue