Faculty Book: Marnia Lazreg
Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad
(Princeton University Press, 2008)
This book looks at the intimate relationship between torture and colonial domination through an examination of the French army's coercive tactics during the Algerian war from 1954 to 1962. Drawing extensively from archives, confessions by former torturers, interviews with former soldiers, and war diaries, as well as writings by Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and others, Lazreg argues that occupying nations justify their use of torture as a regrettable but necessary means of saving Western civilization from those who challenge their rule. She shows how torture was central to guerre révolutionnaire, a French theory of modern warfare that called for total war against the subject population and which informed a pacification strategy founded on brutal psychological techniques borrowed from totalitarian movements. Lazreg also seeks to understand torture's impact on the Algerian population and on the French troops who became their torturers and explores the roles Christianity and Islam played in rationalizing these acts. Marnia Lazreg is a professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center.
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Submitted on: JAN 1, 2008