Title: Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies
Name: Laleh Khalili

Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics
Department of Politics and International Studies
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Year: 2007
Type: Research Grant
Summary: The original research agenda for this project began as a look at carceral violence in Lebanon and Palestine, but as I began the actual fieldwork and archival research, it gradually transformed into a larger research project about confinement in counterinsurgencies. The change came about because so many of carceral situations in Lebanon and Palestine seemed to emerge in asymmetric warfare against Israel. The domain of research, however, expanded even beyond Israel: as I began to examine prisons, detention, and incarceration in counterinsurgencies, it became impossible to ignore the detention facilities set up by the US in its War on Terror or indeed the historical precedents for such liberal counterinsurgencies. To conduct the research, I have interviewed former detainees in various counterinsurgencies including those held in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Ansars I, II, and III and Khiyam, as well as legal representative, interrogators, warders and counterinsurgent theorists who were willing to come forward. I further visited some 14 archives, including those of the ICRC in Geneva, the French military archives in Vincennes, the British Imperial War Museum and National Army Museums, a number of Middle East archives, and the National Archives of the US and UK.

In the end, the larger research project became concerned with the puzzle of how to reconcile liberal impulses behind confinement (as alternative to killing) with the brutality it ensues. The project as a whole shows that even when liberal states counterinsurgency wars are focused on winning hearts and minds, reducing civilian casualties, and nation- building, or in short, attempting to adhere to liberal precepts about war-fighting, these conflicts are still characterized by brutal carceral regimes as a primary mode of gaining and maintaining control over intransigent populations. Although these forms of incarceration are presented as improvements on large-scale slaughter of the civilians through aerial bombings, planned mass murder, and other forms of technologically sophisticated and deadly assaults, they nevertheless emphatically and visibly remake territories, laws, and civilian lives in ways that ultimately reproduce imperial hierarchies and buttress the domination of the conquering liberal power.

Bibliography: Khalili, Laleh. The Location of Palestine in Global Counterinsurgencies (International Journal of Middle East Studies 42:3; 2010)

Khalili, Laleh. The New (and Old) Classics of Counterinsurgency (Middle East Report 255; 2010)