Torture was officially outlawed in France in the 1780s and in Europe during the nineteenth century. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, it has returned as an instrument of state policy.
The defence of torture is no longer viewed with abhorrence. How have languages of patriotism, law and order, justice, the 'civilizing mission', and human rights been used to foster attitudes towards and practices of torture in Western societies? What should our responses be?
Professor Bourke is a historian and academic. She is currently Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London. She is also Director of the Birkbeck Trauma Project and in 2014, she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.
She is Visiting Professor of History at Gresham College.