Since 2002, prisoners at Guantánamo Bay detention camp have been force-fed as punishment for hunger striking, prompting the question of at what point the medical clinic becomes a site of punitive suffering. This essay examines force-feeding as an instantiation of the tension between authority, visuality, and pain. Through a detailed analysis of prisoner testimonials, the policy manual Medical Management of Detainees on Hunger Strike, and a video project by human rights organization Reprieve featuring artist Yasiin Bey simulating the “proper” techniques for force-feeding, the author argues that pain becomes the basis of not only political subjectivity but also relationality between those held captive and the spectator.
Carceral Oversight: Force-Feeding and Visuality at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
Michelle C. Velasquez-Potts is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Rhetoric at University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation, “Technologies of Incapacitation: US Torture Regimes and the Captive Body,” studies the medicalization of punishment, and in particular the rise of force-feeding post-9/11. Her writing appears in the anthology Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (2011) and the journal Women and Performance.
Michelle C. Velasquez-Potts; Carceral Oversight: Force-Feeding and Visuality at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp. Public Culture 1 September 2019; 31 (3): 581–600. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-7532727
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