chapter  3
17 Pages

Torture and Traumatic Dehiscence

Améry and Fanon on Bodily Vulnerability
WithAlexandra Magearu

This chapter explores the complications and revisions the writings of Améry and Fanon bring to Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological accounts of embodiment and flesh and Jean-Paul Sartre’s theories of the look and of colonial violence. Reading Améry’s reflections alongside Fanon’s writings, Magearu proposes a theoretical framework for thinking about the destabilizing phenomenological effects of violence upon the body, the profound existential displacement produced by torture, and the traces it leaves on the body, often registered as fragile inner wounds that can be re-opened upon further shocks or through the psychosomatic re-experiencing of torture. Magearu uses the term “traumatic dehiscence” to refer to these existential phenomena of torture, appropriating and recontextualizing “déhiscence,” a term Merleau-Ponty employs to describe the interfolding of the sensible and sentient properties of the body. Finally, this chapter proposes that we read Améry and Fanon’s theorization of the objectified body through racialization, torture and colonial violence, against the grain of a phenomenological model of the body synergistically connected to its environment.