Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

GTMO in NOLA: New Website Showcases Tulane Latin American Studies Students' Research on Guantanamo

April 22nd, 2015

Last fall, undergraduate students in Introduction to Latin American Studies (Caplan, LAST 1010-05) partnered with the Guantánamo Public Memory Project to create original, engaged scholarship on Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. naval base in Eastern Cuba. Their research was part of a Service Learning project with Tulane and the Ashé Cultural Arts Center to host a traveling exhibition on Guantánamo. This exhibition, which featured panels created by students at universities across the United States, asked viewers to engage with the long history of Guantánamo, from its founding immediately following the Cuban War of Independence, to its use in the 1990s to hold Haitian and Cuban refugees, to current debates surrounding the base’s use in the War of Terror.

At Tulane, the exhibit provided an opportunity for Tulane Latin American Studies students to engage with Guantánamo and questions the base raises about civic responsibility and the U.S.‘s role in Latin America and the world. Their papers look at questions as varied as the role of race in the treatment of Haitian and Cuban refugees held at the base, the private family photographs of Americans living on GTMO during the Cold War, and the role of gender in sexual intimidation tactics used against detainees of the War on Terror. Other papers analyze the shared culture of incarceration that links Guantánamo and New Orleans, the relation of Guantánamo to U.S. immigration policies, and the experiences of current detainees as conveyed through their artwork.

The papers cover five principle areas: Gender and Sexuality, Race, Visual Culture, Latin American Perspectives, and Intersections between New Orleans and Guantánamo. Collectively, these studies provide different perspectives on the naval base, from the views of those held there as refugees or as detainees, to Cuban citizens faced with U.S. presence at the base, to American citizens thinking about how Guantánamo and its policies have shaped our nation. Reading these papers, it becomes clear that Guantánamo, often thought of as a remote and isolated place, is really at the heart of what America is.

This scholarship can now be viewed at https://gtmoinnola.wordpress.com/. Visitors can learn about different facets of Guantánamo, view rare archival photographs of the base from the collection of the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, and participate by sharing their own responses.

Allison Caplan
Graduate Student Instructor
Stone Center for Latin American Studies & Department of Art History
Tulane University
acaplan@tulane.edu