Two years after President Obama pledged to “close” Guantánamo, this international symbol of the War on Terror remains. This should come as no surprise: despite at least two previous, very public “closings,” Guantánamo has been an integral part of American policy and politics for over a century. Yet the history of Guantánamo remains invisible in the media and to the public eye. For example:
Using Web 2.0 technology, oral histories, art, traveling exhibits, and a variety of other media, the Guantánamo Public Memory Project aims to create a broad and lasting public awareness of Gitmo’s histories, opening international debate and action around the key questions the site poses today.
The project was launched in June 2009 by an international working group of Sites of Conscience directors, advocates, historians, educators, and military personnel who identified the following principles for the project. Through every stage, the Project should:
This platform will share a multitude of individual stories about Guantánamo’s layered past, including those of detainees, military personnel, their families, Cuban workers, and Haitian and Cuban refugees. In order to build global understanding of Gitmo’s history, visitors will also be invited to share their own memories and discuss what should happen to this place and the policies tied to it.
Share your thoughts and stories on the Project’s Facebook page.
The Guantánamo Public Memory Project has been made possible with generous support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Libra Foundation as well as with support from the Ford Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the Open Society Institute and the Sigrid Rausing Trust.
UPDATED AGENDA AVAILABLE HERE (PDF).
“Remembering Guantánamo” will bring together historians, advocates, museum professionals, and others to explore Guantánamo Bay as a “state of exception” in American politics and political culture and imagine strategies for building public awareness of Guantánamo’s century-long history – its exceptional and commonplace uses and re-uses – to inspire citizen engagement in what happens there next.
To “remember” Guantánamo is not to place it in the past. The Obama Administration’s recent decisions to uphold military tribunals confirm that the detention facilities will remain open, its prisoners held there indefinitely. Gitmo is not behind us.
But it does have a past, one that can provide critical perspective on what should happen now. How did we get here? How can looking at Guantánamo’s long history of use and reuse help us understand and shape its future? How can we keep the story of Guantánamo and the questions it raises in the public eye?
The symposium is part of the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, an effort by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience to foster public engagement in the history of Guantánamo and its implications for the future. The 2011 symposium will include framing remarks from:
Through debates on broader issues and critiques of specific elements, the event will shape the next phase of the Project, including a web platform, an edited volume, exhibits, and curricula. Please click here to read the full agenda online, or here to download a PDF.
“Remembering Guantánamo” is sponsored by the Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights, University Seminar on History, Redress, and Reconciliation, Oral History Research Office, and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.
To RSVP visit http://hrcolumbia.org/guantanamo/attend.
The symposium will be held at the Jerome Greene Annex at Columbia University in Manhattan. Click here for directions.