Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2208918
 


 



From Man to Beast: Imprisonment and Social Death


Alexa Koenig


University of California, Berkeley - School of Law; University of San Francisco

August 20, 2011


Abstract:     
This essay draws on 78 interviews with men who were formerly detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to demonstrate that for many former detainees, the treatment they found particularly difficult to endure was that which threatened their self- and social-identities. Three forms of treatment particularly facilitated this threat. The first was treating detainees as something other than human, for example as an object or number. The second was isolating detainees from other humans, whether physically or through the creation of what I refer to as 'social islands.' Social islands seem to have emerged when detainees were kept apart from others who understand their culture and / or spoke their language, a practice that seems to have been as difficult for many men to endure as physical isolation. The third mechanism was sensory deprivation. The identity endangerment that resulted from these practices frequently contributed to an experience of social death. It was this experience of social death, both in Guantanamo and especially post-release, that many labeled the worst aspect of their imprisonment.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 13

Keywords: Guantanamo, detention, social death, torture, prison, isolation, identity

JEL Classification: K39, K19

working papers series





Download This Paper

Date posted: January 31, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Koenig, Alexa, From Man to Beast: Imprisonment and Social Death (August 20, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2208918 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2208918

Contact Information

Alexa Koenig (Contact Author)
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )
215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
University of San Francisco ( email )
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 164
Downloads: 28

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo4 in 0.281 seconds