By Miriam I. Ticktin
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Universal phrases and phrases
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Extra info for Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France
1997; Das et al. 1997; Das et al. 2001; Bourdieu 1999; Bourgois 2009). However, I want to suggest that there is a fine line between recognizing suffering and fetishizing it as the fundamental and only basis of a common humanity. While this book argues that an understanding of suffering as the basis of a universal humanity can result in the obligation to use suffering to barter for membership in the category humanity, we still need a language that can express the experience of pain in all its forms.
While neither these centers nor these practices can be called “new,” my point is that they must be located in a political environment where policing is ever more apparent and applauded. Already, in his first round as interior minister, Sarkozy was proudly dubbed the “top cop,” and President Chirac garnered a similar title, “first cop of France,” after he named himself head of the already extant Council of Domestic Security. 21 For instance, the 2003 loi Sarkozy promised to double the number of places in the centres de rétention over the subsequent five years, and the time of detention was increased to thirty-two days from the maximum twelve that previously existed (Tabet 2003).
In this “new humanity,” then, sentiment must be smuggled into biological measurements; one’s suffering must be configured as a particular biological form with affective resonance—enough to compel moral action. This can have serious consequences, as we will see; these range from bartering for membership with one’s life and one’s body, to situations where biological and political claims recombine in new ways, producing and protecting a very particular humanity. Amara, who worked at the medical clinic for undocumented immigrants that I had been observing, suggested to me that I might be interested in a paradox he had witnessed.