Surveillance and Torture: A Foucauldian Reading in Mahmoud Saeed’s Saddam City and Sinan Antoon’s Ijaam

Saad Zaati Shamkhy • Lajiman Bin Janoory

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(English, 12 pages)


This article discusses the portrayal of surveillance and torture during Saddam Hussein's era, as reflected in Sinan Antoon's novel Ijaam (2004) and Mahmoud Saeed's Saddam City (2004). Surveillance is one of Michel Foucault's strategies of power. The nature of surveillance means that the authority monitors the individuals without their knowledge. It is adopted as a mean of control and a method of domination throughout Saddam's regime. Antoon described how the citizens were forced to follow the authority commands because they know that the government always watch their moves. In Saddam City (2004), Mahmoud Saeed also portrays the difficult circumstances which the Iraqi society experienced for more three decades under constant censorship by the Baath Party- Saddam's ruling political party. Torture in prison, on the other hand, is also represented through the main characters of Antoon and Saeed texts. Theoretically, the subject of imprisonment and punishment is considered a unique work in Foucault's view that might not have been discussed even by modern philosophers. According to Michel Foucault, the prison must be used as a tool to reform individuals (Foucault,1995). Foucault's controversy about the use of forbidden matters in prison makes him very prominent in social and political works. He believes that the torture in prison is a political issue that does not restore justice or lead to individual reforms, but instead reinforces the authority by instilling the feeling of fear and terror among the masses. Consequently, the selected authors depicted the prison as non- reformist institution used by Saddam regime to frighten the people and to maintain his political authority.




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