THE TICK-TICK-TICKING TIME BOMB AND EROSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS.

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      Despite intensive work by human rights organizations to garner global condemnation of torture, in the years since the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were exposed, support in the United States for the use of torture has increased, and torture also attracts significant support in many other countries. This paper seeks to understand the affective work that the 'ticking time bomb scenario' and its imagined dramatization does in shaping how torture is understood. The literature is replete with debates over whether the scenario distorts or accurately describes the actual circumstances in which decisions about torture occur, and the moral criteria that ought to be brought to the decision-making process. In describing the scenario as a "thought experiment," however, these analyses obscure the work that this imagined scene does in shaping how people evaluate the use of torture – work that takes place at the affective and somatic levels. Induced into a process of racially inflected and affectively laden identifications and aversions, the paper suggests that the "subjects" of this thought experiment do very little thinking and thus fact-based or logical counter-arguments are of little use in shifting evaluations of torture. Rather, we need to understand the affective work that somatically grounded stories do in normalizing and inducing subjects to embrace torture. The paper is particularly interested in how imagined scenarios can be used to institute affects that freeze and immobilize, and how we might construct other narratives to encourage more dynamic and fluid forms of affective experience and identification. Exploring the link between narratives and more dynamic affects may offer more productive strategies for encouraging people to shift positions as they confront new evidence and encounter other experiences and bodies. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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