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Need help with sociology essay: Panopticon of Our Time


Hadiqa 1 / 7  
Dec 13, 2009   #1
Hello all,

I have written following essay for my sociology course. I need feedback to improve my English writing.

Panopticon of Our Time

The new spheres of panopticon have given birth to a new kind of cyborgs. These cyborgs exist within the codes of binary system of organisms; however, they are recognized as Muslims. They are at large considered a threat to humanity and in particular to the West. This threat did not just appear from thin air; rather their existence came to being with the incident of September 11th, 2001 in New York. They attacked World Trade Centre, which created reasons for United States and other western countries to attack countries suspected with ties to Al-Qaeda. Therefore, Iraq and Afghanistan were attacked by the coalition forces with the slogan 'war on terror.' Many Muslim men were captured, declared as enemy combatant and brought to various detention facilities around the world for the interrogation and power experiments. None of these facilities are operated within the borders of continental United States, making these facilities immune to the human rights code of USA. Detention Camp of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharib are equipped with surveillance systems to monitor the prisoners' slightest movement and to keep them in seven by eight feet cell to create obedient creatures. The newly created American panopticons have transgressed docile bodies of prisoners, readily available for chaos and order experiments, into cyborgs with the use of power.

Michel Foucault and Jeremy Bentham's theories of panopticon always come to mind whenever any detention facilities are analyzed. Although, these detention camps of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharib do not conform to the ideal circular architectures, but the use of technology does not lag behind in the quest of observing the enemy combatants at all times. Foucault describes the usage of technical equipment along with cameras as "principle that power should be visible and unverifiable." (Welch, 2009) But both Bentham and Foucault insisted that panopticon should be used as a standard apparatus to observe all the prisoners by vigilant guards and administrators with the use of both camera and candid eye. Foucault's revisited theories of Bentham emphasized on the creation of institutions with the hierarchy to restore the order by use of power to create and then control the docile bodies. Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharib detention camps have similar system of hierarchy in place.

The detention camp facilities of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharib like several others are supposed to condition bodies to act and accept the allegations of all kinds even if they are innocent. "On one hand, DCGB adheres to techniques of normalization aimed at transforming detainees into being who are docile, obedient, and useful for generating 'enormously valuable intelligence' for the war on terror. On the other, such penal technologies, coupled with harsh interrogations (and torture), repressive conditions of confinement, and few prospects for release." (Welch, 2009) But in the case of captured combatants, the normalization process is somewhat non-existent. On several occasions, United States officers and administrators have stated that enemy combatants would be held indefinitely in detentions camps. The civil prisons, on the other hand, are facilities where criminals are normalized so they can return to normal life style upon their departure from the prison. At Detention Camp of Guantanamo Bay or Abu Gharib, no such commitments or actions are undertaken to assimilate these individuals back into the societies. Most of these detainees have been deployed and transferred to the countries where they are faced with similar punishments and torture.

Foucault suggested in his book that "[a]ny individual, taken almost at random, can operate this machine; in the absence of the director, his family, his friends, his visitors, even his servants." (Foucault, 1977, p. 202) In 2003 and 2004, several images of detainees' sexual and physical abuse surfaced the international media, which portrayed United States as an oppressor of these docile bodies. It is argued that guards and administrators, who have carried out the acts of abuse, are not solely responsible but the governments should also be blamed for these actions due to hierarchy of the institutions.

The idea of punishment and reward is not new to the prison facilities and justice system, rather an old one; it is also mentioned in the manuals given to the interrogative officers for the purpose of extracting the information from the prisoners. In most cases, individuals are faced with tortures and punishment, this ideology is nor approved or condemned by the government or how-to-manuals of CIA manual. "In the introduction to the 1983 manual, the CIA declares that the 'use of force, mental torture, threats, insults or exposure to inhumane treatment of any kind as an aid to interrogation is prohibited by law, both international and domestic; it is neither authorized nor condoned." (Hooks & Mosher, 2005, p. 1637) It is apparent that the manual itself vest enormous powers on the guards, administrators and officers.

In 1974, Stanley Milgram undertook obedience and authority experiment. The results of that experiment clearly stated that without the permission of higher authority, lower ranking officers would not mistreat anyone. "The abuse of detainees is systematic." (Hooks & Mosher, 2005, p. 1628) Therefore, United States higher ranking officers claim of having no knowledge of abuse in the detention facility does not hold much weight. It is part of the established and systematic behaviour of interrogating officers to become callous, cruel to extract information out of enemies as a self defence mechanism.

The application of power has been used to transform chaos created by a few Muslims into order. There have been times when President Bush manifested that rationality only exists with the notion of defending America; and as a self defence mechanism, it is mandatory to disregard any international law or its own human rights code to detain any non-U.S. citizen anywhere in the world. The systematic chain of power employment has left a large population of the world under fire, where people have felt the suffering from all angles. When it comes down to detainees, these captured enemy combatants are not given any opportunity to contact anyone outside of the detention camps facility. Most of them are assigned crown attorneys to represent them in military court.

Some of the theories presented by Michel Foucault are not relevant to the existing framework of panoptic machines. In both Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharib detention camps, these multilayered machines of surveillance are producing several logical and illogical abstract for consumption. However, only one of them is directed for the societies' consumption, which holds a little truth about the prison facility and treatment of prisoners. Recently, President Obama has put a ban on publishing images of any abuse in the media, so that the majority of American population can be kept in dark about dehumanization and humiliating practices of guards carried out in the detention camps or occupied land of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is true that this mechanism to provide access to information is democratically controlled but this access is limited to the elites and bourgeoisie. They ultimately make the decisions of who should be captured indefinitely or tried out. These enemy combatants do not have any access to the democratic procedures of reaching out to the world tribunal for justice.

Discipline mechanism is always hanging as a sword or as a getaway ticket from all the existing problems for these guards, officers and administrators. They perceive that prisoners need to be obedient and follow the authority's demands before, during and after the interrogation. A slightest movement of prisoners would cause them greater harm and hence enemy combatants are expected to conform to the laid out standards behavioural framework. "The disciplines function increasingly as techniques for making useful individuals." (Foucault, 1977, p. 211) However, the employed techniques used to produce useful individuals are non-existent. Majority of them are at risk of psychological traumatic behaviour, which has eliminated the assimilation of them as normal beings in the society, because of humiliation, deprivation and isolation.

These individuals no longer have unified bodies as they are struggling to find their own voice within their body for any one reason. They have transgressed from that one unified binary body into something of a hybrid machine, where the basis of their bodies is still intact within the flesh and blood, but they have been programmed to a carry out calculated behaviour. "A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction." (Haraway, 2000, p. 291) These enemy combatants are being trained and conditioned through systematic techniques of science and oppression to become somewhat a cyborg. Although Donna Haraway in her book is referring to the dichotomy of gender bias, but the politics of gender, race, religion and origin can be translated into the basis of differences between hemispheres of the world. It is entirely a question about 'us' as oppose to 'them'. It also can define the nature of human behaviour where 'us' notion is normal and otherness is considered abnormal even with the evolution of science. It is that abnormalities which is binding humans from the elimination of border in a globalized world. We are motionless because of the constant fight between US Imperialism, capitalism and corporations.

The bodies of these cyborgs are not very different from the bodies in Nazi camps during the reign of Hitler when majority of the innocent Jews, disabled and gypsy bodies were punished and eliminated. "Dwight MacDonald - and Bauman did so to emphasize that the Holocaust was not implemented by aberrant psychopaths nor was the Holocaust 'illegal.' Germany passed laws mandating it." (Hooks & Mosher, 2005, p. 1635) It is the process of elimination, which is being carried forth, similar to the times of Stalin and Lenin when thousands of people were sent to Siberia without food, water or shelter to die. It is the law which has been fortified to treat criminals according to their crime, but given the recent docile bodies transgression into the cyborgs, that possibility has diminished.


Bibliography

Feldman, K. (2002). American Justice, Ashcroft-Style. Middle East Report , 30-31.
Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon Books.
Hajjar, L. (2003). From Nuremberg to Guantanamo: International Law and American Power Politics. Middle East Report , 8-15.
Haraway, D. (2000). Cyber Cultures Reader. London: Routledge.
Hooks, G., & Mosher, C. (2005). Outrages against Personal Dignity: Rationalizing Abuse and Torture in the War on Terror. Social Forces , 1627-1645.
Jagodzinski, J. (2006). The Trauma of the Image: Prison 'Abuse' in Abu Gharib Prison. Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education , 1-15.
Lewis, T. (2006). Critical Surveilliance Literacy. Cultural Studies , 263-281.
Turner, B. S. (2007). The Enclave Society: Towards a Sociology of Immobility. European Journal of Social Theory , 287-303.
Welch, M. (2009). Guantanamo Bay as a Foucauldian Phenomenon: An Analysis of Penal Discourse, Technologies, and Resistance. The Prison Journal , 1-20.
OP Hadiqa 1 / 7  
Dec 14, 2009   #2
I seriously need help with my essay. Please post comments. Thank you all.
meisj0n 8 / 272 2  
Dec 15, 2009   #3
Psst> I will see if I can get another contributor or moderator to tag-team

The new spheres of panopticon have given birth to a new kind of cyborgs.

cyborg. interesting stuff.

These cyborgs exist within the codes of binary system of organisms; however, they are recognized as Muslims.

I'm confused. lol. Muslims and electronic people? what do you mean they are recognized?

They are at large considered a threat to humanity and in particular to the West.

particularly the West.

This threat did not just appear from thin air; rather their existence came to being with the incident of September 11th, 2001 in New York. They attacked World Trade Centre, which created reasons for United States and other western countries to attack countries suspected with ties to Al-Qaeda.

Ah! I see. threat-repetition from previous sentence. less fluff and words, more substance. you can combine these two sentences. and about things that most people find common knowledge, you can expound less on them...like here

Therefore, Iraq and Afghanistan were attacked by the coalition forces with the slogan 'war on terror.'

Many Muslim men were captured, declared as enemy combatant and brought to various detention facilities around the world for the interrogation and power experiments.

Muslim men where? what say so much about the background...it's prosaic

None of these facilities are operated within the borders of continental United States, making these facilities immune to the human rights code of USA.

what do yoy plan to talk about later with such facts?

The newly created American panopticons have transgressed docile bodies of prisoners, readily available for chaos and order experiments, into cyborgs with the use of power.

panopticons <big word. I'm not sure transgressed is the right word.

I'm at a loss at what to say about this intro. it's long, it's interesting because you use words about robots, panopticons, cyborgs...but does this REALLY make the point you want to say? I think you can say it in fewer words.

Work on introducing more what you plan to say in the intro. not solely saying a background.
Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 15, 2009   #4
WOW! Ok, the subject matter is beyond me, but I will try to tidy-up the spelling and punctuation for you...

... have given birth to a new kind of cyborgs .
... within the codes of a binary system of organisms; ...

They attacked the World Trade Center , which created reasons (...) to attack countries suspected withof having ties to Al-Qaeda.

... declared as enemy combatant, and brought to various detention facilities around the world for the interrogation and power experiments.
... operated within the borders of the continental United States US) , making these (...) rights code of USA . The d etention Campsat Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharib spell check...>here you are digressing to an almost manic, certainly speculative discourse. Needs citation for credibility>> are equipped with surveillance systems ...

I am confused about the purpose of your essay after having read just the first paragraph. It is comprehensive, but it has more of a science fiction feel to it that academic or sociological. You need a clearer thesis statement; something that tells the reader what the content of the paper or your argument will encompass.

Blue skies!

Jeannie
OP Hadiqa 1 / 7  
Dec 16, 2009   #5
Thank you so much guys. I will edit it again.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Dec 16, 2009   #6
The newly created American panopticons have transgressed docile bodies of prisoners, readily available for chaos and order experiments, into cyborgs with the use of power.

This sentence is unnecessarily confusing. It seems to be what establishes the meaning of the essay, so it is important. Why are you using the word cyborg? I think a cyborg is part-human and part-robot, so I can see it as a metaphor, maybe, but it is confusing without more explanation. I suggest working with that thesis statement so that it explains what you mean simply; that will help to compensate for the complexity of the rest of the essay.

I hope I'm not exposing an embarrassing misconception! Cyborg seems like a metaphor, and if you intend it as a metaphor, you should explain it a little better at the outset for slow thinkers like me! :-)
OP Hadiqa 1 / 7  
Dec 16, 2009   #7
Thank you King. I always have trouble writing clearly and I end up losing marks.

I know it is a long essay but please feel free to criticize.

In your opinion, which thesis statement presents a clear thought:

The American panopticons of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharib are employing the chaos and order experiments to transform docile prisoners into cyborgs.

The newly created American panopticons have transformed docile bodies of prisoners into cyborgs with the use of chaos and order experiments.

I have used words such as panopticon, cyborgs, and docile bodies because I had to relate to two other readings from my sociology class. Donna Harroway argues in one of them that women are the cyborgs, especially from ethnic origins.

However, I do agree with all of you and truly appreciate your help.

Thanks
Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 16, 2009   #8
I have used words such as panopticon, cyborgs, and docile bodies because I had to relate to two other readings from my sociology class. Donna Harroway argues in one of them that women are the cyborgs, especially from ethnic origins.

This explains a lot. In order to do away with the science fiction feel that you have created in the first paragraph, how about comparing Harroway's argument with that of the prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Graib. I am making this up here, but...

Harroway (2009) argues that women from certain ethnic origins have been made into cyborgs, doing exactly what they have been programmed to do (or whatever she said, you see?), this is much the same with prisoners...

Again, just a made-up example to clarify your mission, and you thesis statement.

Hope this helps! The extra information you provided really helped me (I was beginning to worry about your state of mind, haha!:)

Jeannie (you can call me 'Queen' if you want, teehee:D)
OP Hadiqa 1 / 7  
Dec 17, 2009   #9
Hail to the Queen and King :o

Thank you so much guys for your help.


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