IILAH Film Lunch: Songs of War

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Room 102, Level 1, Melbourne Law School

Next month, the Institute for International Law and the Humanities (IILAH) is hosting the first in a series of lunchtime screenings of films addressing questions of international law. The first film in this series, to be shown on 11 May at 1pm in room 102, is Tristan Chytrosche’s 2010 documentary Songs of War: Music as a Weapon, which follows Christopher Cerf, composer of the well-known theme song to Sesame Street, and his discovery that his music is routinely used by the US military as a technique of torture in prisons like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

What Cerf uncovers raises important questions about the relationship between music, torture, war and law. How do human rights law or the laws of war fail to prevent practices of torture and so-called ‘enhanced interrogation’? Is law complicit in the production of spaces like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib where sonic torture takes place? If so, in what ways? And how do these practices speak to common assumptions regarding the necessarily ‘benign’ nature of entertainment and art more generally?

After the film, Professor Sundhya Pahuja and Dr James Parker will offer some reflections on these questions and lead a discussion. All students are encouraged to attend and bring their lunch — there will be popcorn and snacks provided. No RSVP is necessary, but if you have any questions please email law-iilah@unimelb.edu.au.