UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

(Re)imag(in)ing evil : ethics in the face of the suffering other Balfour, Lindsay Anne


This thesis examines representations of evil through the rhetorical figure of the face and its dissemination through mainstream and alternative media. I am interested in the extent to which representations of alterity contribute to, and make possible, a sustained War on/of Terror. Furthermore, I am interested in how these figures of alterity are apprehended in their suffering. As Judith Butler points out, the ability to suffer is what marks one as human. She asks “[w]hat is real?...If violence is done against those who are unreal, then, from the perspective of violence, it fails to injure or negate those lives since those lives are already negated” (Precarious Life 33). My project questions who is left out of dominant constructions of what constitutes the human, and examines how the encounter with a suffering body reconstitutes the “evil other” as human. Specifically, I will focus on the images of torture inflicted on prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the online execution video of Saddam Hussein. While the desire to protect and maintain the life of the innocent other is becoming an increasingly allocated social norm, I am interested in what such applications of responsibility or responsiveness might mean for those who are not allocated similar forms of protection. In other words, how do we present the relationship between culpability and precariousness and what might be the implications of re-inscribing figures such as Saddam Hussein with fragility? This thesis questions what is permitted to be seen as a suffering body in the context of the War on Terror and how dominant frameworks of representation foreclose the recognition of suffering in particular bodies.

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