Torture without torturers violence and racialization in black chicago

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    8 Scopus citations


    What happens when trauma becomes a political frame for recognizing anti-black racism and police violence? I grapple with this question by illustrating the ways that survivors of police torture must present themselves as a part of a disability category. More broadly, this article demonstrates that, as opposed to being a category of difference unto itself, the idea of police torture in Chicago has been transformed through legal precedent, activism, and the resulting legislation to emerge, as it has in its latest rendition, as a medical condition. I argue that the role of trauma in producing such categories of disability is not unidirectional. Since racialized debilitation always already informs societal institutions before any contemporary incidence of state violence occurs, these concessions reify a “racial caste system” by putting the onus on the traumatized to gain state recognition. If they do not, then they have no one to blame but themselves. In sum, I show that the problem with trauma as a legal category is that it justifies inequality for black victims of police violence because these concessions betray a tacit assumption that they are debilitated by virtue of their racialized status before they can gain relief through the law.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)S87-S96
    JournalCurrent Anthropology
    Issue numberS21
    StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Archaeology
    • Anthropology
    • Archaeology


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