The Truth Machines: Policing, Violence, and Scientific Interrogations in India (Law, Meaning, And Violence) (Hardcover)

The Truth Machines: Policing, Violence, and Scientific Interrogations in India (Law, Meaning, And Violence) By Jinee Lokaneeta Cover Image
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Using case studies and the results of extensive fieldwork, this book considers the nature of state power and legal violence in liberal democracies by focusing on the interaction between law, science, and policing in India. The postcolonial Indian police have often been accused of using torture in both routine and exceptional criminal cases, but they, and forensic psychologists, have claimed that lie detectors, brain scans, and narcoanalysis (the use of “truth serum,” Sodium Pentothal) represent a paradigm shift away from physical torture; most state high courts in India have upheld this rationale.

The Truth Machines examines the emergence and use of these three scientific techniques to analyze two primary themes. First, the book questions whether existing theoretical frameworks for understanding state power and legal violence are adequate to explain constant innovations of the state. Second, it explores the workings of law, science, and policing in the everyday context to generate a theory of state power and legal violence, challenging the monolithic frameworks about this relationship, based on a study of both state and non-state actors.

Jinee Lokaneeta argues that the attempt to replace physical torture with truth machines in India fails because it relies on a confessional paradigm that is contiguous with torture. Her work also provides insights into a police institution that is founded and refounded in its everyday interactions between state and non-state actors. Theorizing a concept of Contingent State, this book demonstrates the disaggregated, and decentered nature of state power and legal violence, creating possible sites of critique and intervention.

About the Author

Jinee Lokaneeta is a professor in political science and international relations at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

Praise For…

Winner: Drew University (DU) 2022 Bela Kornitzer Award for Nonfiction
— DU Bela Kornitzer Award for Nonfiction

"Overall, this is an essential work on the history of coercion and efforts to regulate it in India." —Indian Journal of Medical Ethics
— Steven H Miles

"Lokaneeta skillfully combines interviews with police, lawyers, forensic psychologists and human rights activists with analysis of a range of textual and visual materials, to situated case histories in their wider context... This book will inspire much debate and inquiry and must be read widely."
Contributions to Indian Sociology
— Sahana Ghosh

"As Lokaneeta’s insightful work shows us, violence and contingency remain at the heart of the state, even as science and the law constantly work together to maintain the facade of coherence and rationality. The book charts a way to understand the modes through which state violence operates, and the ways in which it can be revealed." 
Law, Culture and the Humanities
— Mayur Suresh

"The Truth Machines is a valuable addition to the discourse on police reform in India precisely because it complicates the questions in the hope of avoiding the pitfalls of easy answers."
Social Change 
— Alok Prassana

"...Lokaneeta’s tremendously clever, prize-winning new study The Truth Machines [is] an inquiry into how law, science, and violence enfold in India today in ways that are at once novel and familiar. ...Lokaneeta’s book neatly reveals the symmetry between the late modern epistemology of painlessness on which the truth machines are premised and the early modern epistemology of pain that they promise to transcend." 
Law Social Inquiry
— Law & Social Inquiry

Co-Winner: American Political Science Association (APSA) 2021 C. Herman Pritchett Book Award
— APSA C. Herman Pritchett Book Award

Honorable Mention: 2022 Distinguished Book Award, Asian Law and Society Association
— ALSA Distinguished Book Award
Product Details
ISBN: 9780472074396
ISBN-10: 0472074393
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication Date: February 26th, 2020
Pages: 262
Language: English
Series: Law, Meaning, And Violence