Guantánamo Public Memory Project

“Why Remember Guantánamo?”

Exhibit Opening and National Dialogue

December 13-14, 2012 Columbia University and New York University

National Dialogue

December 13, 9:30-4:00, Columbia University, Held Lecture Hall (Room 304) Barnard Hall, Barnard College (map)

December 14, 9:30-5:30, New York University, King Juan Carlos Center, 53 Washington Square South

Exhibit Opening Reception

December 13, 6-8pm, NYU King Juan Carlos Center, 53 Washington Square South





Speaker Bios



Join a national dialogue on GTMO’s long history and how it matters today. Hear from people who worked, lived, served, or were held at GTMO from the Cold War through the War on Terror; from the historians, activists, artists, and archivists saving their stories; and from the nearly 100 students around the country who brought those stories to the public through the Guantánamo Public Memory Project’s first exhibit.



Thursday, December 13: Jerome Greene Annex, Columbia University


• 9:30-10:30 Welcome and Event Framing

Elazar Barkan, Director, Columbia Institute for the Study of Human Rights

Liz Ševčenko, Director, Guantánamo Public Memory Project

Jonathan Hansen, Lecturer in Social Studies


• 10:30-10:45 Coffee break


• 10:45-12:15 Session 1: Where is Guantánamo? Locating the Legal Black Hole

Moderator: Diana Taylor, University Professor of Performance Studies and Spanish, New York University

Student teams from the University of Massachusetts and Arizona State University present public memory projects on mapping GTMO and the history of its built environment


Michelle Chase, Faculty Member, History, Bloomfield College (Cubanist)

Commander Jeff Johnston, head of public works at GTMO, 1999-2009


• 12:15-1:00 Lunch


• 1:00-2:30 Session 2: GTMO and American Empire

Moderator: Michael Strauss, Professor of International Relations, Centre d’Etudes et Stratégique Diplomatique

Student teams present public memory projects on the War of 1898 and the leasing of Guantánamo Bay (Rutgers University New Brunswick); life at GTMO in the Cold War (University of North Carolina at Greensboro); and military families’ communities of memory (University of West Florida).


Jana Lipman, Associate Professor, Tulane University

Esther Halmon and Leslie Aldama-Palmer, daughters of Cuban workers who grew up on the base in the 1960s


• 2:30-2:45 Coffee break


• 2:45-3:45 Working group dialogues: what do we need to remember about GTMO? What questions does its history help us discuss as a community and country?


• 6:00-8:00 Exhibit opening reception

King Juan Carlos Center, New York University, 53 Washington Square South


Friday, Dec 14: King Juan Carlos Center, New York University

• 9:30-9:45 Introduction to Guantánamo Public Memory Project

Liz Ševčenko, Director, Guantánamo Public Memory Project


• 9:45-11:30 Session 3: Safe Haven or Prison Camp? GTMO and immigration policy

Moderator: Holly Ackerman, Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latino Studies, Duke University

Student teams present public memory projects on Haitian refugee experiences (Brown University) and Cuban refugee experiences (New York University):


Colonel Stephen Kinder, GTMO base commander during Haitian refugee crisis

Jorge del Rio, Cuban balsero

Betsy Campisi, University at Albany, State University of New York


• 11:30-11:45 Coffee break


• 11:45-1:15 Session 4: National Security’s New Paradigm: Confronting the post-9/11 past

Student teams present public memory projects on post-9-11 GTMO and the Arts of Detention (Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis)


Peter Jan Honigsberg, University of San Francisco Law School, Project Founder and Director, Witness to Guantánamo

Ramzi Kassem, Director Immigrant & Refugee Rights Clinic and Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility, CUNY

Zeke Johnson, Director, Security with Human Rights Campaign, Amnesty International


• 1:15-2:45 Session 5: Can we “close Guantánamo?” Alternative visions for GTMO’s future

Moderator: Catherine Powell, Fordham Law School

Student teams present work on post 9-11 GTMO (University of California, Riverside) and how GTMO has been closed before and what’s being imagined and built at GTMO today (University of Minnesota)


Karen Greenberg, Director, National Security Program, Fordham Law School

Zachary Katznelson, Senior Staff Attorney, National Security Program, ACLU

Albert Shimkus, Associate Professor, National Security Affairs, Naval War College


• 2:45-3:00 Coffee break


• 3:00-4:00 Working group dialogues: what do we need to remember about GTMO? What questions does its recent history and current status help us discuss as a community and country?


• 4:00-4:30 Report back and closing


Speaker Bios


Holly Ackerman, Librarian for Latin America and Iberia, Duke University

Holly Ackerman is the librarian for Latin America and Iberia at Duke University. Her research established the foundational demography and history of the 1994 Cuban raft crisis. She has also published works on Cuban political prisoners, the Cuban diaspora, Cuban national reconciliation and various topics related to Caribbean migration. Her work has appeared in Cuban Studies, Encuentro de la cultura cubana, and Latino Studies. She has produced three digital archives on Cuban, Dominican and Haitian themes. Dr. Ackerman served as the country specialist on Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic for Amnesty International in the United States from 1999 to 2006 and continues to consult with their Co-Group Program.

Elazar Barkan, Director, Columbia University Institute for Human Rights

Elazar Barkan is the director of Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University and professor of international and public affairs and director of the human rights concentration at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. He was the founding director of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR) in The Hague. Professor Barkan’s research interests focus on human rights and on the role of history in contemporary society and politics and the response to gross historical crimes and injustices. His publications include “Historians and Historical Reconciliation,” (AHR Forum) American Historical Review, (October 2009); No Return, No Refuge: Rites and Rights in Minority Repatriation (with Howard Adelman, CUP 2011); The Guilt of Nations: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices (2000); Claiming the Stones/Naming the Bones: Cultural Property and the Negotiation of National and Ethnic Identity (edited with Ronald Bush, 2003); and Taking Wrongs Seriously: Apologies and Reconciliation (edited with Alexander Karn, 2006).

Michelle Chase, Faculty Member, History Bloomfield College

Michelle Chase has written articles and reviews for the Bulletin of Latin American Research, The Americas, The New West Indian Guide, and The Sixties. She has also published on contemporary Cuba for The Nation and NACLA Report on the Americas. She is currently writing a book on the role of women and gender in the Cuban Revolution.

Esther Halmon

Esther Halmon was born in Oriente Province, Cuba. Her father worked at the US Naval base at Guantánamo Bay. In 1964, after the US government required workers to choose between moving to the base or losing their jobs, her father relocated to the base. After 4 years of trying, he was able to bring Ms. Halmon and the rest of the family to the base in 1968. Ms. Halmon attended the base high school, and met her future husband there, who was serving as a Marine. She has fond memories of growing up at GTMO.

Jonathan Hansen, Lecturer in Social Studies, Harvard University

Jonathan M. Hansen is lecturer in social studies, faculty associate, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, at Harvard University. An intellectual historian by training, he is the author of The Lost Promise of Patriotism: Debating American Identity, 1890-1920 (Chicago, 2003) and Guantanamo: An American History (forthcoming autumn 2011 from Hill and Wang), along with numerous articles, editorials, and book reviews on such subjects as U.S. imperialism, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and race and ethnicity. He is currently working on two projects: one, a history of apology, combines a longitudinal analysis of apology in Western culture reaching back to classical literary and sacred texts with a latitudinal examination of apology and reconciliation projects across cultures, continents, and oceans; the second, a history of post traumatic stress syndrome in American wars, asks whether PTSD existed before the idea of “trauma” became commonplace and what analogous forms it may have taken. Hansen lives in Belmont, MA, with his wife Anne, a physician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and their three children: Oliver, Julian, and Nathalie.

Jana K. Lipman, Associate Professor, Tulane University

Jana Lipman is a specialist in the 20th-century U.S., especially foreign relations, social and political history, Cuba and Vietnam. She has published Guantánamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution. Drawing from rich oral histories and little-explored Cuban archives, Lipman analyzes how the Cold War and the Cuban revolution made the naval base a place devoid of law and accountability. The result is a narrative filled with danger, intrigue and exploitation throughout the twentieth century. Opening a new window onto the history of U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean and labor history in the region, her book tells how events in Guantánamo and the base created an ominous precedent likely to inform the functioning of U.S. military bases around the world. Lipman received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2006, and she is an assistant professor of history at Tulane University. Guantánamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution won the 2008 Taft Prize for Labor History.

Liz Ševčenko, Director, Guantánamo Public Memory Project

Liz Ševčenko was Founding Director of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a network of historic sites that foster public dialogue on pressing contemporary issues. Starting in 1999 as a meeting of nine sites under the auspices of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, under her leadership the Coalition grew to an independent organization with over 250 members in more than 40 countries, and launched regional networks in Russia, South America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East; as well as an international Immigration Sites of Conscience network and a bi-national (US and Canada) Indian Boarding Schools Project. As Coalition Director, Ševčenko worked with initiatives in more than 60 countries to design replicable programs and practices that reflect on past struggles and inspire citizens to become involved in addressing their contemporary legacies. Before launching the Coalition, Ševčenko had over ten years of experience developing public history projects designed to catalyze civic dialogue in New York and around the country. As Vice President for Programs at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, she developed exhibits and educational activities that connect the dramatic stories of the neighborhood’s immigrants past and present. She also developed national and community initiatives to inspire civic dialogue on cultural identity, labor relations, housing, welfare, immigration, and other issues raised by these stories. She has published extensively on Sites of Conscience in journals and edited volumes in a variety of fields, from human rights to cultural heritage to transitional justice, and teaches Museum Studies at New York University.

Michael J. Strauss, Professor, International Relations, Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques

Michael J. Strauss is a professor of international relations at the Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques, Paris, specializing in territorial leases as phenomena of international relations and international law. Prior to entering academia, he was an international journalist and served as bureau chief for Agence France-Presse’s AFX News in Paris, Knight-Ridder Financial News in Houston and Madrid, and Dow Jones News Service in Geneva. He took his Ph.D. in international relations and diplomacy from the Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques and his M.Sc. in journalism from Columbia University, where he was an International Fellow in the School of International Affairs. He is the author of The Leasing of Guantánamo Bay and the forthcoming The Viability of Territorial Leases in Resolving International Sovereignty Disputes: A Comparative Study.

Diana Taylor, University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies and Spanish, New York University

Diana Taylor is the author of the award-winning Theatre of Crisis: Drama and Politics in Latin America (1991), Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ (1997), and The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Duke U.P., 2003), which won the Outstanding Book from the Association of Theatre in Higher Education, and the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for Best Book in Latin American and Hispanic Studies from the Modern Language Association. She has recently published several books in Spanish: PERFORMANCE, Buenos Aires: Asuntos Impresos (2012); Acciones de memoria: Performance, historia, y trauma, Peru: Fondo Editorial de la Asamblea Nacional de Rectores (2012); Estudios avanzados de performance, Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica (co-edited, Marcela Fuentes, 2011). The Archive and the Repertoire will appear in Portuguese in the UFMG Press (Brazil, 2012). She has edited over a dozen books, has lectured extensively around the world, and is the recipient of many awards and fellowship, including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. She is founding director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, funded by the Ford, Mellon, Rockefeller, Rockefeller Brothers and Henry Luce Foundations.

Creative: Picture Projects & Tronvig Group