Ines Georgis awarded the Departmental dissertation prize 2020
30 December 2020
I’m honoured to receive the departmental prize for my undergraduate dissertation, and I’m grateful to the department for this award. Above all, I would like to thank Dr Cathy Elliott for her supervision. Cathy’s insights and encouragement were invaluable, and she always approached our work with such kindness and generosity. Throughout, her sensitivity and care supported me through what was a difficult process made even more challenging by the Covid-19 pandemic. Cathy profoundly shaped my interests; it was through her module on the discourses of international development that I was introduced to discourse analysis, after which (and at rather the last minute!) my plans for my dissertation completely changed. I’m so glad I chose what was for me the more unfamiliar approach. Such critical theoretical approaches are very rare in our department’s modules, and I hope current efforts to remedy this in the department are successful.
In my dissertation, I analyse the invisibility of the Iraqi women victims in the narrative of the Abu Ghraib prison torture/abuse ‘scandal’, asking: how are these women made invisible and, when they appear, what are the conditions of their visibility? In considering these questions, I engage Spivak’s notion of the subaltern and the issues it raises for scholars writing about subalternity. I argue that the method of discourse analysis can address those issues by attending to the production of subaltern silence without attempting to represent or speak for the subaltern. With this in mind, I perform a discourse analysis of media coverage of the torture/abuse at Abu Ghraib that came to light in 2004 in which Iraqi women nevertheless remained ‘doubly in shadow’. I argue that, as is evidenced by their disappearance from the dominant story, several discourses come together to ensure that the subaltern is not seen in the narrative of Abu Ghraib.