Insurgent Truth: Chelsea Manning and the Politics of Outsider Truth Telling
Date: December 2019
Duration: 4 hours 50 minutes
When Chelsea Manning was arrested in May 2010 for leaking massive amounts of classified Army and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, she was almost immediately profiled by the mainstream press as a troubled person: someone who had experienced harassment due to her sexual orientation and gender non-conformity, and who leaked documents not on behalf of the public good, but out of motives of personal revenge or, as suggested in the New York Times, 'delusions of grandeur.'
Insurgent Truth argues for seeing Manning's example differently: as an act of what the book terms 'outsider truth-telling.' Bringing Manning's truth-telling into conversation with democratic, feminist, and queer theory, the book argues that outsider truth-tellers such as Manning tell or enact unsettling truths from a position of social illegibility. Challenging the social alignment of credibility with gendered, classed, and raced traits, outsider truth-tellers reveal oppression and violence that the dominant class would otherwise not see. Read as outsider truth-telling, the book argues that Manning's acts were not aimed at curbing corporate or governmental bad acts, but instead at transforming public discourse and agency, and inciting a solidaristic public. The book suggests that Manning's actions offer a productive example of democratic truth-telling for all of us.