Issue 13.3


Our latest issue is out! Featuring a dossier on cultural renditions of the Guantánamo Bay Detention Center twenty years after it opened, including two essays from former detainees, our Winter 2022 issue also includes an essay on a resilience approach to human rights in contemporary Syria and Lebanon, and two essays on the International Committee of the Red Cross: one considers the organization’s attempts to be neutral in early 1950s Korea, and the other presents the ICRC’s managerial engagement with armed violence in Rio de Janeiro.



The Major Humanitarian Dilemma of Neutrality: The International Committee of the Red Cross and Prisoners of War in Korea, 1950–1953

Abstract: This article examines how the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) addressed the complex issue of the 150,000 North Korean and Chinese prisoners of war (POW) detained by the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) during the Korean War (1950–1953). Based on the 1949 Geneva Convention, the treatment of POWs raised serious concerns regarding one of ongoing challenge for the ICRC: neutrality. As suggested in this article, delegates faced a major dilemma in providing humanitarian aid and protection to prisoners while preserving their neutrality. Read More »

A Managerial Humanitarianism: The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Risk Management of Armed Violence in Greater Rio de Janeiro

Abstract: This paper analyzes an International Committee of the Red Cross program that instructs public service workers, and the municipal bureaucracies overseeing them, on how to assess and mitigate risks related to armed violence in their daily work in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I argue that this initiative represents a form of managerial humanitarianism primarily concerned with shaping the state’s management of lives and with preparing groups of people to protect themselves. Here, armed violence is turned into an object of (risk) management, something to Read More »

Epistemics of Aid: Toward a Liminal Critique of Resilience in the Syrian Crisis

Abstract: Humanitarian actors since the Syrian crisis have acknowledged that traditional emergency relief cannot meet the growing challenges of mass displacement. This article traces the political contradictions of the Resilience Agenda, a novel approach to humanitarian aid which claims to offer an integrated developmental solution to the needs of both Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities in Jordan and Lebanon. The article shows how resilience draws aid organizations into paradoxical relationships of cooperation and conflict with the very asylum states that undermine Syrian resilience, intensifying Read More »

Cultural Renditions of Guantánamo and the War on Terror

Abstract: This essay examines the Guantánamo Bay detention facility as a site and subject of intellectual and cultural production which can address aspects of the war on terror foreclosed by law and politics. The essay begins with prisoner Abu Zubaydah’s recent petition to the US Supreme Court and arguments there about state secrets privilege to shield evidence of the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program (2002–2009) from disclosure. Drawing on Bonnie Honig’s theory of democratic deliberative processes and “public things,” the essay then turns Read More »

The Beautiful Guantánamo

Abstract: In “The Beautiful Guantánamo,” Mansoor Adayfi, who was imprisoned for fourteen years there without charge, refutes the narratives and images carefully curated by the US government about its captives. Adayfi describes how men and boys speaking eighteen different languages and representing fifty nationalities shared their different cultures with one another and, through communal experiences, generated their own distinctive Guantánamo culture from 2002 to 2010. Beginning with the fear, estrangement, and abuse prisoners experienced upon their arrival, the author details how forming a common language Read More »

The Detainee's Two Bodies: Intellectual Property and Fugitivity at Guantánamo Bay

Abstract: The article argues that the denial of detainee intellectual property rights at Guantánamo Bay calls attention to new modalities of fugitivity and postcolonial citizenship. Examining paintings created by current and former detainees as well as Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s redacted memoir Guantánamo Diary (2015/2017), the article poses two key questions: How do we understand the status of post-9/11 art made in captivity? And what is the significance of the claim of US state ownership over such art? Following Stephen Best’s argument that US intellectual property Read More »

From Guantánamo to the Global South: Mohammed el-Gharani in Literature and Art

Abstract: This article discusses a poem, a performance, and a comic book related to the life of Mohammed el-Gharani, a Black Muslim citizen of Chad held at Guantánamo for seven years beginning at the age of fourteen. It argues that while the fragmented authorship and dispersal of these creative pieces distinguishes them from a more established corpus of detainee memoirs, they perform important work alongside this corpus in highlighting solidarities between detainees and residents of Cuba, on the one hand, and Black members of the Read More »

This Is What It Looks Like: Searching for Law's Afterlife in Guantánamo

Abstract: This article considers the role of visual materials in the afterlife of extraordinary state violence. It locates a series of drawings by Guantánamo Bay detainee Abu Zubaydah as embedded within and counter to the camp’s existing visual grammar, where images of the camp and detainees work alongside state and legal violence to form the complex of forces that mark detainees as subjects to and subjects of (legal) death. Within these relations, detainee-produced drawings are vivid reminders of the tortured and forgotten bodies of state Read More »

My Guantánamo Writing Seminar

Abstract: In this essay, Mohamedou Ould Slahi reflects on how fifteen years of indefinite detention, torture, and abuse in the war on terror contributed to his development as a writer. He discusses the ways in which solitary confinement and other rules governing his captivity in a prison in Jordan and for fourteen years at Guantánamo forced him to keenly observe his surroundings and to conjure characters and stories from the smallest of details in his material life, from the most mundane interactions with guards, interrogators, Read More »