Special Seminar by Nick Cheesman: “The Hermeneutics of Torture in Thailand” | 京都大学 東南アジア地域研究研究所


Special Seminar by Nick Cheesman: “The Hermeneutics of Torture in Thailand”

Speaker: Nick Cheesman (Associate Professor, Department of Political and Social Change and Director, Myanmar Research Centre, Australian National University)

Title: The Hermeneutics of Torture in Thailand

Abstract: How do states whose officers torture grapple with whether and how to document and articulate the practice? Why does how they do that matter? This talk addresses these questions via records of torture rendered by cops, lawyers, administrators, prosecutors and judges in Thailand, obtained between 2018 and 2023. In these, state officers unevenly reflect on violence and its role in statecraft. They communicate about torture, and they interpret it. By giving meaning to this type of state violence, they make the state meaningful. Though torture might itself be arbitrary and stupid, and lacking in interpretive depth, its shallowness and stupidity call for, and make possible, the hermeneutics to come.

Bio: Nick Cheesman is a scholar of the politics of law and policing in mainland Southeast Asia, in particular, Myanmar (Burma). His work is concerned generally with how language animates actions, how categories determine meanings, and how ideas constitute practices. Presently, he holds an Australian Research Council grant to document where, when and how torture occurs in Myanmar and Thailand. Through this research, he aims to reinterpret the relationship between violence and the state. In his spare time he hosts the New Books in Interpretive Political and Social Science series for the New Books Network.
For more on Nick’s research interests, roles, podcasts, courses taught, and publications, please visit https://nickcheesman.net.