What is it about?

Australia's policy on refugees results in treatment that is cruel, inhumane and amounts to torture. How did a country with a previously strong commitment to human rights get to the point where the majority of the electorate continues to support a policy that sees women, children and men subjected to years of ongoing psychological torture? Certainly politics, economics and culture play a role in the production of this outcome, but to find the engine driving it means we must look below the surface and ask what kind of psycho-affective state produces this?

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Why is it important?

There has been an ongoing and powerful resistance to these policies but they have proved to be largely ineffectual. There has and is ongoing scholarship concerning aspects of this crisis of humanity that sheds vitally needed light on parts of it. However, to date there has been little attempt to find the unconscious drivers that power the development of this crisis. That's the contribution made by my work as I attempt to argue the economic, political and cultural operationalise the torture, but that it is the psycho-affective field of melancholia and splitting that animates it.


This is my first attempt to bring together my thinking around this crisis.

Ms Julie Macken
Western Sydney University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The melancholic torturer: How Australia became a nation that tortures refugees, Journal of Sociology, October 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/1440783319882525.
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