Event Announcement: Force-Feeding and the Suspended Animation of Torture

March 6, 2023

The Department of Gender & Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley presents:

Force-Feeding and the Suspended Animation of Torture
Wednesday, March 8 | 12:10-2 p.m. | 602 Social Sciences Building

Speaker: Michelle C. Velasquez-Potts, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz

Since 2002, prisoners at Guantánamo Bay detention camp have been force-fed as punishment for hunger striking, prompting the question of how to understand the feeding tube’s various uses as both a form of medical treatment and a torture instrument. By placing force-feeding practices at Guantánamo Bay within a larger history of medicalized punishment, this talk tracks how the functions of the feeding tube are altered and reimagined by the US military. The talk also explores end-of-life politics at Guantánamo Bay by investigating the recent possibility of palliative care for aging prisoners at the camps. I consider how the military’s plans for hospice is made possible by humanitarian logics of war that continue to centralize care in similar ways to that of force-feeding. Hospice, I argue, shifts attention away from torture techniques deployed throughout the war on terror. Thus, giving Guantánamo the semblance of being a new site of humanitarian possibilities.

Michelle C. Velasquez-Potts is an educator and writer working at the intersections of feminist and queer thought. Her first book project, Suspended Animation, examines how state power makes specific use of the feeding tube and the practice of force-feeding to control both bodily life and death among incarcerated people. Michelle is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In fall 2023, Michelle will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) to fully participate in this event, please contact Gillian Edgelow at 510-643-7172 or gilliane@berkeley.edu with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.

Event Contact and Access Coordinator: gilliane@berkeley.edu, 510-643-7172

Attendance restrictions: MASKS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. Please see our covid safety community values: https://gws.berkeley.edu/about/covid-safety/