Shokoufeh Sakhi

Shokoufeh Sakhi

Speaker Bio:

Shokoufeh Sakhi is an independent scholar and researcher and is currently a member of the Pathologies of Solitude research network, a project hosted at Queen Mary University, London. She has a doctorate in political science from York University, with a specialization in political theory and phenomenology of ethics.  

In the 1980s she spent eight years in Iranian prisons, two of them in solitary confinement. She acted as Executive Committee Director (2013-2014) of the Iran Tribunal Foundation investigating the Iranian state's crimes against humanity in the 1980s. She also testified as an ex-political prisoner at the Iranian People's Tribunal hearings held at the Hague (2012).  

Among many documentaries, she participated in The Tree That Remembers, an award-winning NFB documentary film on the experiences of Iranian political prisoners in the first decade after the 1979 revolution.

Shokoufeh Sakhi is the author of "Prison and the subject of resistance: A Levinasian inquiry" in the book Death and Other Penalties: Philosophy in the Time of Mass Incarceration (2015). She researches imprisonment and the self, the sociality of the isolated subject and the politics of memory. 


Imprisonment: A forced-starvation of body and mind 

In this session, I will share my experience as a political prisoner in Iran from 1982 to 1990.  I will share my own reflections on the intentions of forced-isolation, what it seeks to do with the mind and soul of the imprisoned person, and how I lived this process.

Locked down in our homes, in our apartments with the keys in our hands, semi-willing, semi-forced, out of a fear of catching and passing a sickness unwittingly. All became vulnerable to our cores and guardians of the vulnerable at the same time. This has become a most concentrated universal experience of this millennium so far. Starting with the citizens of Wuhan, China, deserting the streets and all public space, images and videos of people looking out through their windows, have found their ways to our homes. They reflect an array of contradictory emotions and desires, yearnings for freedom, a choice less resignation, a sense of determination, a decided stamina, creative adaptation, and myriad ways of solidarity, yet again, frustration, fear and anxiety, a need and a desire to know that there is an end. 

And for good reasons this new experience has invoked the image of imprisonment for so many people everywhere in the world. As one who has been imprisoned, I welcome this loose identification with prisoners. Might we become more aware in our bodies and mental corridors of those who are tucked away behind walls, from our eyes and ears, casually forgotten. Here I share my reflections on isolation both as a citizen and as a prisoner. 

UPDATED: February 15, 2023

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