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The Truth Machines

The Truth Machines

Policing, Violence, and Scientific Interrogations in India

by Jinee Lokaneeta
Publication Date: 10/03/2020
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Utilizing case studies and extensive fieldwork, this book considers the nature of state power and legal violence in liberal democracies by focusing on the interaction between law, science, and policing in India. The postcolonial Indian police have often been accused of using torture in both routine and exceptional criminal cases, but they, and forensic psychologists, have claimed that lie detectors, brain scans, and narcoanalysis (the use of "truth serum," sodium pentothal) represent a paradigm shift away from physical torture; most state High Courts in India have upheld this rationale.

The Truth Machines examines the emergence and use of these three scientific techniques to analyze two primary themes. First, the book questions whether existing theoretical frameworks for understanding state power and legal violence are adequate to explain constant innovations of the state. Second, it explores the workings of law, science, and policing in the everyday context to generate a theorization of state power and legal violence, challenging the dominant frameworks about this relationship.

Jinee Lokaneeta argues that the attempt to replace physical torture with a truth-seeking apparatus in India fails, because it relies on a confessional paradigm contiguous with torture. Her work also provides insights into a police institution that gets founded and re-founded in its everyday interactions between state and non-state actors. This book demonstrates the contingent, disaggregated, and decentered nature of state power and legal violence, creating possible sites of critique and intervention

International law
Publication Date:
University of Michigan Press
Country of origin:
United States
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