Northwestern Events Calendar


MENA Monday Night at the Evanston Public Library. The Afterlives of Torture: Executive Power versus International Law in the Age of Trump — Lisa Hajjar

When: Monday, May 22, 2017
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM CT

Where: Community Room, 1st Floor, Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave., Evanston, IL 60201

Audience: Public

Cost: Free of charge and open to the public

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Donald Trump ran for president on a platform that included the pledge to bring back waterboarding and other torture techniques. Within days of taking office, he signed executive orders that would indicate his intention to make good on that pledge. The question of whether the United States could or should resurrect a torture policy has become, again, a topic of fierce debate.

In this talk, Professor Lisa Hajjar of the University of California will engage these contemporary developments and debates by exploring how the post-9/11 torture program instituted by the Bush administration continues to haunt national politics and international relations, despite the fact that the program was cancelled by President Obama. She use the concept of “afterlives” to consider three sets of issues:

(1) how the secrecy that continues to shroud the US record on torture serves to fuel disputes about whether torture “works”;

(2) how the lack of accountability for those officials responsible for torture has reinforced confusion about US obligations under international law;

(3) how assertions about executive power and prerogatives by the two previous administrations have paved the way for President Trump to pursue his goal of canceling the cancellation of torture.

Lisa Hajjar is a professor of sociology at the University of California – Santa Barbara. Her publications include Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza (2005), Torture: A Sociology of Violence and Human Rights (2013), and Opposing Perspectives on the Drone Debate (2014). She is currently working on a book tentatively titled The War in Court: The Legal Campaign against US Torture in the “War on Terror.” Her work focuses mainly on issues relating to law and conflict, military courts and occupations, human rights and international law, and torture and targeted killing.

This event is part of the MENA Monday Night series, a partnership between Northwestern's MENA Program and Evanston Public Library aimed at improving the public's understanding of the MENA region and allowing space for questions and discussion.

MENA Monday Night events are free of charge and open to the public. Registration is not required, but helps us plan our seating. You may register with the Evanston Public Library online or by calling the Reference Desk at 847-448-8630.

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