“Guantánamo” has become an international symbol of America’s War on Terror, a lightning rod for debates about torture, detention, national security, and human rights. But the US naval station at Guantánamo Bay (GTMO) was part of American politics and policy for a century before 9-11. It’s been “closed” several times after public protest, only to be put to new use. It’s been a central battleground for a wide range of major issues that affect us all today – from immigration to AIDS to national security.
The Guantánamo Public Memory Project seeks to build public awareness of the long history of the US naval station at Guantánamo, Bay, Cuba, and foster dialogue on the future of this place and the policies it shapes. The Project joined ISHR as a program in June 2011. First launched in 2009 from the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, the Project is now developed by a growing collaboration of universities, organizations, and individuals, coordinated from ISHR. The Project includes video testimonies, teaching and research resources, digital and physical archives of rare material from GTMO, and public dialogue facilitation guides.
In 2012, students at 11 universities around the country asked: what can GTMO’s history tell us about what’s happening now—there, and here at home? They dug through historical and visual archives; talked to people who worked there, lived there, or were detained there; and explored how GTMO relates to issues, people, and places in their own communities. Each student team created a piece of the Project’s first traveling exhibit, sharing their discoveries—and the difficult questions they struggled with.
The exhibit opened at NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life Windows Gallery on December 13, 2012 and is traveling to 9 sites across the country through at least 2014. The exhibit explores GTMO’s history from US occupation in 1898 to today’s debates and visions for its future, from a wide variety of perspectives. It was developed through a unique collaboration among universities and their communities.
University National Dialogue partners:
- Teach a course on the history of GTMO and the challenges of interpreting it for the public using Project curricula and teaching resources;
- Invite students to develop different components of the exhibit, including panels, oral histories, and digital content;
- Engage with other students and communities through video conferencing and the Project blog and social media;
- Host the exhibit, and organize public programs focusing on the host community’s local perspective and expertise.
Interested in involving your university or community? Join the National Dialogue
Exhibit comprises light-weight 70”x80” banners and:
- Video testimonies: Long before the first enemy combatant arrived, thousands lived in this “legal black hole” – from Caribbean refugees stranded there in tent cities; military families who remember it as a treasured American home; and scores of Cuban exiled workers cut off from their families across the fence line.
- “Shape the Debate” text-message voting activity: opportunity to add your take to the growing national dialogue and see your feedback shape the debate on exhibit monitors
- Mobile multimedia: access video testimonies and deeper digital content through your smart phone
- Web platform: at http://www.gitmomemory.org, including interactive map, blog, and timeline
- Teaching resources: curriculum and extensive resource library with primary and secondary sources, including documents, images, and video footage,
- Dialogue kits: detailed discussion guides for you to host conversations about GTMO and the questions it raises in your own communities
- Speakers’ bureau: list of experts – from scholars to people with direct experience – on a diversity of issues
- Opportunity to engage students and communities by creating their own public memory projects or participating in on line discussions
For more information on pricing, scheduling, and specifications, download the information packet or contact