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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

A Field Guide for Female Interrogators

by Coco Fusco

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The world was shocked by the images that emerged from Abu Ghraib, the US-controlled prison in Iraq. Lynndie England, the young female army officer shown smiling devilishly as she humiliated male prisoners, became first a scapegoat and then a victim who was "just following orders." Ignored were the more elemental questions of how women are functioning within conservative power structures of government and the military. Why do the military and the CIA use female sexuality as an interrogation tactic, and why is this tactic downplayed and even ignored in internal investigations of prisoner abuse?

Combining an art project with critical commentary, Coco Fusco imaginatively addresses the role of women in the war on terror and explores how female sexuality is being used as a weapon against suspected Islamic terrorists. Using details drawn from actual accounts of detainee treatment in US military prisons, Fusco conceives a field guide of instructional drawings that prompts urgent questions regarding the moral dilemma of torture in general and the use of female sexuality specifically. Fusco assesses what these matters suggest about how the military and the state use sex, sexuality, and originally feminist notions of sexual freedom.

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“Fusco confronts her deeply disturbing material with unflinching bravery and characteristic originality.”

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Coco Fusco, a New York-based interdisciplinary artist and writer, has performed, lectured, exhibited, and curated around the world since 1988. She is the director of Intermedia Initiatives at Parsons School of Design at the New School. Fusco is the author of English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas and The Bodies That Were Not Ours and Other Writings. Her work on military interrogation was selected for the 2008 Whitney Biennial.