Misrecognising the victim of state violence: denial, ‘deep’ imperialism and defending ‘our boys’

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This article critically examines public responses to attempts at holding former British soldiers accountable for historic human rights violations committed during conflicts fought overseas. Using the case of British Army veterans who served in the North of Ireland and Iraq as an empirical basis, it posits that such responses are defined by a moral myopia that distinguishes between state violence ‘here’ and ‘there’ and ‘now’ and ‘then’. This moral myopia, it is submitted, is a form of identity politics forged through a marriage between deep imperialism and the strategies of denial used by the state. This essentially misrecognises the victim of state violence and ultimately leads to public sympathy favouring those who stand accused of human rights abuse over and above those actually subjected to it. Ultimately, the article concludes, this means that public opinion is channelled in a way that calls for such violations not to be punished rather than for them to be punished.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCrime, Law and Social Change
Early online date29 Aug 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 29 Aug 2019


  • state violence
  • Torture
  • Human Rights
  • Denial
  • State Crime


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