34 Exercises of Freedom: #18 Soundscapes of Detention: Music and Torture under the Junta (1967–74)
by Anna Papaeti

Ana Papaeti, opening of the Public Programs of documenta 14 at Parko Eleftherias, photo: Stathis Mamalakis

Although torture under the Greek military junta (1967–74) has been subject to scrutiny, with important trials in Strasbourg (1968–69) and Greece (the so-called “Torturers’ Trials,” 1975), the use of music and sound has so far been conspicuously absent from the discourse. In addition to the restrictive legal definitions used for the Torturers’ Trials in 1975, the humanistic perception of music as an inherently positive and enlightening art-form accounts for such omissions and silences. The history of music’s abuse by repressive regimes tells a different story. To expose and reflect on the elusive potential of music to damage human subjects is an exercise of critical freedom.

Papaeti’s presentation examines the use of music and sound as a means of terrorizing, humiliating, and ‘breaking’ political prisoners. Drawing on new interviews with survivors, supported by overlooked testimonies in existing sources, the presentation documents how music and sound were used in the detention centers of the Security Forces (Athens and Piraeus), and the Athens-based Special Interrogation Unit of Greek Military Police (EAT/ESA). It focuses on the practices used at EAT/ESA, exploring how these related to cutting-edge interrogation methods of the time, and exposing the genealogy of current forms of torture as they were practiced in the so-called War on Terror.

Anna Papaeti holds a PhD in musicology from King’s College, University of London. She worked for Britain’s Royal Opera House Media in London (2004–06) and as an associate dramaturge at the Greek National Opera (2006–09). Her postdoctoral research includes a DAAD fellowship on Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler’s postwar antifascist works (Universität der Künste Berlin, 2010), and a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (University of Göttingen, 2011–14). The latter investigated the use of music as a means of manipulation and terror under the Greek military Junta (1967–74). She has published widely in edited volumes and scholarly journals, and has co-edited two special volumes on music and torture, and music in detention. She is an Onassis Foundation scholar.

Posted in Public Programs

Boats of History

with Giorgos Maniatis, Servanne Jollivet, Pavlos Hatzopoulos, Anna Papaeti, and Nelli Kampouri

The session of talks and debates surrounding the political history of the Mediterranean takes place on a boat sailing along the coast of Athens and the Piraeus Port. There is no better place than a boat…