In December 2017, when custodial deaths due to torture became a prominent issue in Maharashtra, the Director General of Police reportedly sent an internal circular requesting the use of forensic science methods mentioning lie detector, brain mapping and narcoanalysis tests. The Indian police began using the three techniques a couple of decades ago to gain information despite the lack of any scientific grounding for these forensic techniques. In a context where physical torture is the norm and custodial deaths frequent, these techniques were represented as a paradigm shift away from physical third degree. In her current book manuscript, Truth Machines: Policing, Violence, and Scientific Interrogations in India, Jinee Lokaneeta examines the nature of state power and legal violence in liberal democracies by focusing on the interaction between law, science and policing in India. Based on interviews with forensic psychologists, police, lawyers and activists in five Indian cities alongside cases and cultural forms, she turns attention to the everyday actors who constitute the state and the infrastructure of interrogations. Modernizing paradigms of development informing policing techniques point to the limits of a monolithic conception of state and policing. Thus, the role of contingency and arbitrariness in the pastoral and coercive actions of state and semi-state actors has significant consequences for those interacting with the state.
Discussion to be moderated by Vasuki Nesiah (NYU Gallatin).
Jinee Lokaneeta is an Associate Professor in Political Science and International
Relations at Drew University. Her areas of interest include Law and Violence, Political
Theory, and Interdisciplinary Legal Studies. She is the author of Transnational Torture:
Law, Violence, and State Power in the United States and India (New York University
Press, 2011;Orient Blackswan 2012) and the co-editor with Nivedita Menon and Sadhna
Arya of Feminist Politics: Struggles and Issues (in Hindi). Delhi: Hindi Medium
Directorate, 2001. She is currently completing a book manuscript titled The
Truth Machines: Policing, Violence, and Scientific Interrogations in India (Under
Contract with the University of Michigan Press). She has published in journals such as
Economic and Political Weekly; Law, Culture, and Humanities; Studies in Law, Politics
and Society, and Theory and Event.
Vasuki Nesiah is a legal scholar who has published widely on the history and politics of human rights, humanitarianism, international criminal law, international feminisms and colonial legal history. Her current research focuses on debates regarding reparations for colonialism and slavery. Her recent publications include a co-edited volume, A Global History of Bandung and Critical Traditions in International Law (Cambridge 2017), and book chapters such as “Indebted: The Cruel Optimism of Leaning-in to Empowerment” in Janet Halley et. al, ed.s, Governance Feminisms, UMinn. (2018) and “The Escher Human Rights Elevator: Technologies of the Local” in Sally Merry et. al, eds., Human Rights Transformation in an Unequal World, UPenn (2018). Nesiah teaches human rights, critical legal studies and the politics of property at the Gallatin School, NYU. She also continues as core faculty in Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP). She is from Colombo and New York.
*********************Lunch will be served.***********************