Volume 1, Number 2 (2008)

Fatal Distraction

Oliver Christian Belcher

University of British Columbia at Vancouver 


One day soon, we will be asking, “What was Guantánamo?”1 The history of that insidious prison complex nestled into an eastern Cuban bay is not so easily rendered, since the only authentic feature of the site is its hyper-mediatization. Though much has already been written on the historically complicated relationship between the United States and Guantánamo—the renascent use of military tribunals; the establishment of the U.S military base 1898, and the use of the base as a confinement center for Haitian and Cuban refugees prior to the confinement of designated “terrorists”; the brazen conceit on the part of the Bush Administration to hold indefinitely so-called “enemy combatants”; the implementation of torture as a means for information extraction for this supposed “war on terror”; et cetera—the question remains as to how the permutations set in motion by that institution will be perceived and negotiated in popular and scholarly imaginaries.  The uses of Guantanamo poses a series of circumstances, whereby the most basic pieces of evidence elude the observer, and remain opaque within military and state organizations – thus leaving only remnants largely mediated through the media itself.