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Violence Workers

Police Torturers and Murderers Reconstruct Brazilian Atrocities

Martha K. Huggins (Author), Mika Haritos-Fatouros (Author), Philip G. Zimbardo (Author)

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Of the twenty-three Brazilian policemen interviewed in depth for this landmark study, fourteen were direct perpetrators of torture and murder during the three decades that included the 1964-1985 military regime. These "violence workers" and the other group of "atrocity facilitators" who had not, or claimed they had not, participated directly in the violence, help answer questions that haunt today's world: Why and how are ordinary men transformed into state torturers and murderers? How do atrocity perpetrators explain and justify their violence? What is the impact of their murderous deeds—on them, on their victims, and on society? What memories of their atrocities do they admit and which become public history?
List of Illustrations
Explanation of Illustrations
List of Tables and Figures


Chapter 1: Violent Lives
Chapter 2: Reconstructing Atrocity
Chapter 3: Locating Torturers and Murderers
Chapter 4: Deposing Atrocity and Managing Secrecy
Chapter 5: Biography Intersects History
Chapter 6: Personalistic Masculinity
Chapter 7: Bureaucratizing Masculinities
Chapter 8: Blended Masculinity
Chapter 9: Shaping Identities and Obedience: A Murderous Dynamic
Chapter 10: Secret and Insular Worlds of Serial Torturers and Executioners
Chapter 11: Moral Universe of Torturers and Murderers
Chapter 12: Hung Out to Dry

Conclusion: The Alchemy of Torture and Execution: Transforming Ordinary Men into Violence Perpetrators
Martha K. Huggins is Roger Thayer Stone Professor of Sociology at Union College. Her book Political Policing (1998) won two awards. Mika Haritos-Fatouros is Professor of Psychology at the School of Psychology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and author of the forthcoming title, The Psychological Origins of Institutionalized Torture (2003). Philip G. Zimbardo is Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, author of several books, and 2002 President of the American Psychological Association.
“In is impossible to read this book without awe, admiration, and an overwhelming sense of shock . . . In terms of research design. scholarly boldness, intellectual integrity, and sheer importance to the study of political violence, this book has no match.”—Latin American Research Review
"A groundbreaking work. Its conclusions allow us to understand how state-sponsored violence is a social illness, and how easily moral boundaries can be destroyed. Our lesson is to grasp carefully how the technique of transforming individuals into evildoers is a highly rational exercise of constructed hatred, the isolation of individuals, and the blurring of the border between duty and cruelty."—María Pía Lara, editor of Rethinking Evil: Contemporary Perspectives

"It's rare enough that people study torturers. It's very dangerous fieldwork, demoralizing material to ponder over, and intellectually hazardous to put it together coherently. These authors do better than this: they come back with a book well worth thinking about. Thinking about torture these days is something we do less and less; one can only hope this book will be an antidote to so much thoughtlessness."—Darius Rejali, author of Torture and Modernity: Self, Society and State in Modern Iran

"The volume disturbingly reminds us that the problem of impunity is not just one that concerns the direct torturers and murderers but also all those who are complicit in the system of impunity."—Sir Nigel Rodley, United Nations Commission on Human Rights

2003 Distinguished Book Award, International Division of the American Society of Criminology

NECLAS Best Book Prize, New England Council of Latin American Studies

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