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Reed Political Scientist Publishes Torture and Democracy to Wide Acclaim


The Reed College political science department will host a lecture by Rejali, along with a book signing, and reception for the author, on February 7, at 7 p.m., in Reed’s Eliot Hall chapel.  The lecture is free and open to the public.


Portland, OR (January 30, 2008) -- Torture and Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2007) has placed Reed professor of political science Darius Rejali in the international media spotlight, positioning him among the world’s preeminent scholars on torture. Rejali has been interviewed so often, in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, that a Google search of his name returns over 13,000 results. From Al Jazeera to the BBC, and NPR to the Washington Post, Rejali reveals the most controversial Western intelligence-gathering techniques, explains their origins, and questions if the use of torture actually hinders the ability of its user to gather credible intelligence.

Torture and Democracy is an unrelenting examination of the use of torture by democracies in the 20th century. As democracy, human rights, and the free press blossomed after World War II, so did the market for “clean” torture techniques that leave no evidentiary scars, such as the use of drugs, stress positions, and waterboarding. Rejali takes a comprehensive look at the historical use of torture to force false confessions, extract information, and keep prisoners compliant.  He also questions its efficacy in gaining reliable intelligence and examines the residual effects that torture creates for those societies that use it.

The Reed College political science department will host a lecture by Rejali, along with a book signing, and reception for the author, on February 7, at 7 p.m., in Reed’s Eliot Hall chapel.  The lecture is free and open to the public.

Darius Rejali has been a member of the Reed faculty since 1989. He earned a Ph.D. in political science from McGill University and a B.A. in philosophy from Swarthmore College. He is also the author of Torture and Modernity: Self, Society and State in Modern Iran  (Westview, 1994).