In his stimulating new book, the psychological anthropologist Alexander Laban Hinton chronicles the trial against the confessant Cambodian tormenter Kaing Guek Eav (f.k.a. Comrade Duch). In exploring Kaing Guek Eav’s state of mind, the book provokes the reader to think about why we feel the need to ask the black-and-white question whether he was a man or a monster under the Khmer Rouge regime. “What does this say about ourselves, our own belief systems, the banality of our everyday thought, and the moral economies we circulate?” (270). Rather than editing out complicating detail in favour of abstract truth, Man or Monster?further delicately complicates, enhances but also confines our ability to know and understand perpetrators of mass violence.
- Transitional Justice