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Reimagining, Documenting, and Archiving GiTMO: The Challenges Ahead

by Ethan Tussey

by Muira McCammon for IN MEDIA RESThere have been numerous attempts to document and redefine the U.S. Naval Station at Guantnamo Bay. A broad spectrum of mediaincluding sketches, photographs, diagrams, declassified maps, memoirs, blog postsattest to the complexity and fluidity of experiences at the detention camp. The array of sources also reveal the myriad voices, who have contributed to the construction, analysis, and reception of GiTMO: habeas corpus lawyers, political cartoonists, photographers, court sketch artists, to name a few. The vast majority of these resources tend to focus on two components of the U.S. Naval Station: the rulings of the Guantnamo military commissions and detainees' daily experiences. Many aspects of the detainees' lives have still been kept in the dark. As a researcher in the United States, I often consider what tools might be useful to document and archive narratives from theGuantnamo Bay. There are a number of efforts underway: theGuantnamo Public Memory Project, theGuantnamo Lawyers Digital Archive, and theWitness to Guantanamo Project. This is in part why I am so drawn to the filmic dramaCamp X-Ray(2014). This is one of few cinematic attempts to reimagine Guantnamo and to reconsider the diverse perspectives of the members of the U.S. military. It examines the relationship between Ali, a detainee, and Amy, a guard, at Guantnamo. Ali wants to read the last book in the Harry Potter series and determine Snapes true character, but no one at the Detainee Library seems to have the book. There are two aspects of Sattlers film that really stand out to me. One is his decision to never show us the Guantnamo Detainee Library, even though books are at the very core of his plotline; in this regard, the audience, like Ali, is kept in the dark. The other fascinating bit for me is that Sattler relied upon written documents and interviews to construct his narrative; he never visited the detention camp. Camp X-Ray, the film, is but one example of how storytellers can traverse the complexities of detention. But as we view and hear these stories, we have to think carefully about whose narratives and which ideologies are being privileged.

Gitmo and Camp X-Ray

The trailer for Camp X-Ray

from Camp X-Ray (2014)
Creator: Peter Sattler
Distributor: YouTube
Posted by Ethan Tussey