Thursday, April 28, 2011

Guest Blogger: Kathy Roberts

It is our great pleasure to welcome Dr. Kathy Roberts to IntLawGrrls!
Kathy (right) is a staff attorney at the Center for Justice and Accountability in San Francisco, where she investigates and litigates impact cases on behalf of survivors of torture and other severe human rights abuses. In her guest post below, Kathy reports on a recent New York state disciplinary hearing against a psychologist involved in interrogations of Guantánamo detainees.
With a background in civil litigation and social theory, Kathy also teaches International Human Rights Law part-time at the University of San Francisco. She holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley.
Kathy dedicates this guest post to French philosopher, classicist, anti-colonialist, and trade union activist Simone Weil (1909-1943). Weil’s work explored, among other subjects, social and psychological oppression, feminism, anti-Semitism, the limits of political ideology, and Christian and Jewish mysticism.
Kathy has always loved Weil’s essay “The Iliad or Poem of Force,”which was published under a pseudonym during the German occupation. In this remarkable work, at once a literary interpretation and a political treatise, Weil (below left) compassionately and powerfully describes how violence affects the humanity of perpetrators and victims.
In Weil's words,

The true hero, the true subject, the center of the Iliad is force. Force employed by man, force that enslaves man, force before which man’s flesh shrinks away. In this work, at all times, the human spirit is shown as modified by its relations with force, as swept away, blinded by the very force it imagined it could handle, as deformed by the weight of the force it submits to. For those dreamers who considered that force, thanks to progress, would soon be a thing of the past, the Iliad could appear as a historical document; for others, whose powers of recognition are more acute and who perceive force, today as yesterday, at the very center of human history, the Iliad is the purest and loveliest of mirrors.

Today Weil joins IntLawGrrls' other foremothers in the list just below our "visiting from..." map at right.
Heartfelt welcome!

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