Detainees, military families, scholars, interrogators, and refugees offer perspectives of the controversial United States Naval Base at Guantánamo — also known as GTMO or Gitmo — through the final weekend of an exhibition at Burton Barr Central Library.
The 13-panel Guantánamo Public Memory Project exhibit, arranged on the library’s second floor, scratches the surface of a historical debate that continues to resonate with current issues of borders, indefinite and preventive detention, and foreign relations.
Established as a Caribbean base on indefinite lease in 1903 despite Cuban protests, and later made notorious as the purgatorial site of incarceration for thousands of Haitians and Cubans, GTMO is now infamous as an internment camp for war prisoners.
The exhibit explores Guantánamo’s history, the many roles of the base, and its potential closure through video testimonies, interactive discussions and activities, and complementary films at Phoenix Art Museum (Dirty Wars on Nov. 24 and Zero Dark Thirty on Dec. 8). Related topics include the progression of detention from the Japanese concentration camps in Arizona to refugees and enemy combatants at GTMO.
Initiated by Columbia University, the Guantánamo Public Memory Project continues to grow through collaboration and support from universities, organizations, and individuals, and solicits new narratives via its website and its traveling exhibit.
Although the second-floor exhibit runs through Sunday, November 24, the companion first-floor @Central Gallery photo exhibition Cuba: Through Each Others Eyes [sic] continues through December 1, displaying the work of five photographers from a 2002 Phoenix-Havana exchange.
- Guantánamo Public Memory Project at Phoenix Public Library’s Burton Barr Central Library
- Witness to Guantánamo website
- Recent news about the potential closure of GTMO
- The American Civil Liberties Union’s “Guantánamo by the Numbers” infographic
- A brief history of GTMO from Paul Kramer in The New Yorker
- Further reading recommended by Phoenix Public Library staff