This paper explores Western responses to the torture inflicted upon Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib facility near Baghdad. More specifically, however, this paper examines responses to photographic representations of this torture, which began to surface in the April of 2004. The analysis that follows engages closely with the status of the photographs as images, arguing that existing critical interpretations fail to account for the particular issues and problems that the visual image presents. Through detailed reference work by Judith Butler and Susan Sontag, this paper will also interrogate the limitations of recent theoretical approaches to the Abu Ghraib photographs, and consider the extent to which discussions of gender have been excluded from these discourses.

Note on the Author

Alexandra Murphy is a doctoral candidate in the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, where she also lectures and tutors. This paper is developed from her dissertation, ‘Gender and Teleology in Images from Abu Ghraib: an analysis of representation and identity in the scopic field,’ which was submitted in 2004 in partial fulfillment of her M.Phil.