03 October 2019

Thesis Award for CCDP Researcher

The Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding is very proud of  Jonathan Luke Austin who won "Le Prix de l'Association des Anciens de l'Institut" for his thesis "Small Worlds of Violence: A Global Grammar for Torture".


Le Prix de l'Association des Anciens de l'Institut is given annually to the best thesis per faculty.

Jonathan Luke Austin defended his PhD thesis in International Relations summa cum laude avec les félicitations du jury in 2017. The thesis committee was comprised of Professor Thomas Biersteker (chair and internal reader), Professor Anna Leander (external reader), Professor Keith Krause (co-director), and Professor Riccardo Bocco (co-director). Austin has been a researcher at the Centre on Conflict Development & Peacebuilding since 2016 and Lead Researcher at the Violence Prevention (VIPRE) Initiative since 2017. Austin's doctoral research, as well as other published work exploring the conditions of possibility for violent human rights abuses including torture, the targeting of civilians, and ethnic cleansing, forms the core theoretical, conceptual, and empirical base underlying the VIPRE Initiative.


How is torture possible? How does a human being know how to harm another? Face-to-face, body-to-body, side-by-side, screamto-scream, blow-to-blow? This is a practical question. And to it this text offers a practical guide. Unlike accounts that have come before it, the pages to follow show the "doing" of torture and direct the reader towards the being and becoming of its violence, its sensemaking, its how-possible conditions: as many elements as could be assembled that reveal how we - you, the reader, and I the author - as well as any other, can become tortures. It guides us collectively through to an answer to the question of how our bodies - bodies we feel to be good - can do bad, can see their muscles tense to flick out the motor movements that do harm, can see their emotional response to witnessing another cry out in pain, in admonishment to desist, offer no resistance, and can commit these acts in symmetry with other bodies across borders, in a choreography of violence that echoes its movements here at home, and over there abroad, wherever that may be. This is a guide to violence as something more intimate to you than you know. It is a microsocial guide to the globality of torture's ontology. A guide to the global grammar of torture today.