The conference “Camps, (In)justice, and Solidarity in the Americas” will host speakers from a variety of disciplines to present academic research and reflections on the topics of internment and human rights issues from a multitude of insightful perspectives.
Mansoor Adayfi is a writer, advocate, and former Guantánamo Bay prisoner. He spent nearly fifteen years without charge in U.S. custody, including eight years in solitary confinement. Originally from Yemen, he was released to Serbia in 2016. Since then, he has focused on continuing his education and on writing about his experiences. Adayfi’s writings have been published in The New York Times. These include “In Our Prison on the Sea” and “Taking Marriage Class at Guantánamo Bay.” He is also author of the essay “Did We Survive Torture?,” which is included in the edited volume Witnessing Torture; Perspectives of Torture Survivors and Human Rights Workers (2018). Hachette Books is the publisher of his 2021 memoir, Don’t Forget Us Here .
Moazzam Begg is a British-born Muslim, he is a former Guantanamo Bay detainee and Outreach Director for CAGE. After his release, he became one of the most prominent public-speakers and Muslim advocates for justice and dialogue. He is the author of the best-seller Enemy Combatant in which he recounts his experience as an innocent man detained and tortured at Guantanamo, Bagram and Kandahar. The Muslim 500 listed him as one of the 500 “most influential Muslims” in the world. The New Statesman’s listed him in the top 50 “Heroes of our time”. He has travelled extensively to investigate state abuses and western complicity in torture including to Tunisia, Libya, and Syria. A direct eye-witness to the conflicts in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Syria, his life has been recorded by the Columbia University Oral History Project, and the BBC Storyville documentary The Confession.
Lakhdar Boumediene was born and raised in Algeria, and as an adult he worked for various humanitarian causes. Boumediene was imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay from January 2002 to May 15, 2009. Like others, he was detained and interrogated, but not charged. He was also the lead plaintiff in Boumediene v. Bush (2008), a U.S. Supreme Court case that he won. The court determined that Guantánamo detainees and other foreign nationals have the right to file writs of habeas corpus in U.S. federal courts. Boumediene and Mustafa Ait Idir are the authors of Witnesses of the Unseen: Seven Years in Guantanamo (2017).
Ahmed Errachidi (also known as Ahmed Rashidi) is from Morocco. His 2013 memoir, The General, The Ordinary Man Who Challenged Guantánamo, was co-written by Gillian Slovo. It details that he was singled out for special attention from the guards and interrogators because he spoke English and that they forced him to serve as an unofficial leader within the community of prisoners. It also refutes many of the assertions about Guantánamo. In a 2013 interview for New Media, Errachidi explained what his hunger strikes were like and stated that they were done simply to win the captives a return to less harsh conditions. In January 2021, the New York Review of Books published an open letter from Errachidi, and six others formerly held in Guantanamo, to newly inaugurated U.S. President Biden, appealing to him to close the infamous prison.
Mohamedou Houbeini is a writer, advocate, and former prisoner from Mauritania. He was detained at the U.S. government’s Guantánamo Bay prison without charge for approximately fourteen years. Houbeini wrote a memoir during his incarceration, which the U.S. government declassified in 2012 with numerous redactions. An international bestseller and the first memoir to be published during the author’s detention at the Guantánamo Bay naval base, was published as Guantánamo Diary in January 2015. The memoir was used as the basis for a film starring Tahar Rahim, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jodie Foster. Titled The Mauritanian, it was released in February 2021. Slahi wrote four other books in detention, one of which he describes as being “about finding happiness in a hopeless place.” In 2021, his novel The Actual True Story of Ahmed & Zarga was published by Ohio University Press in its Modern African Writers series. At the time of this writing, Houbeini is a writer-in-residence at Noord Nederlands Toneel, a Dutch theatre company. His main publications have been published under the name Mohamedou Ould Slahi.
Eric Jennings is professor of history at the University of Toronto (Victoria College). His books include Escape from Vichy: The Refugee Exodus to the French Caribbean (Harvard UP, 2018), Perspectives on French Colonial Madagascar (Palgrave, 2017); Free French Africa in World War II (Cambridge UP, 2015), Imperial Heights: Dalat and the Making and Undoing of French Indochina (California, 2011), Curing the Colonizers (Duke, 2006), and Vichy in the Tropics (Stanford, 2001). He co-edited L’Empire colonial sous Vichy (Odile Jacob, 2004) with Jacques Cantier. His books have all been translated into French, and one into Vietnamese.
Jana Lipman is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. Her book, Guantánamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution, 1939-1979 (University California Press, 2009) was the 2009 Co-Winner of the Taft Prize in Labor History. This book tells the history of the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay (GTMO) from the point of view of Cuban base workers. Her second book, In Camps: Vietnamese Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Repatriates, 1975-2005 was published by University of California Press in 2020. Lipman has also published extensively about Cuban, Haitian, and Vietnamese refugees in the late 20th century. Lipman was an adviser to the Guantánamo Public Memory Project. She has written about U.S.-Cuban relations, refugees, and asylum seekers in the Washington Post’s Made by History series, the Times Picayune/New Orleans Advocate, and the Conversation.com. Her commentary has also appeared in numerous media outlets including NPR, the New York Times, and the Christian Science Monitor.
A. Naomi Paik is the author of Bans, Walls, Raids, Sanctuary: Understanding U.S. Immigration for the 21st Century (2020, University of California Press), which examines the criminalization of immigrants in the U.S. She also published her first book, Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II in 2016 (UNC Press), as well as articles, opinion pieces, and interviews in a range of academic and public-facing venues. As a board member of the Radical History Review, she has co-edited three special issues of the journal—on “Militarism and Capitalism (Winter 2019), “Radical Histories of Sanctuary” (Fall 2019), and “Policing, Justice, and the Radical Imagination” (Spring 2020)—and will coedit “Against the Anthropocene” with Ashley Dawson (Winter 2023). Collaborating with Gerry Cadava and Cat Ramirez, she is also coediting the “Borderlands” section of Public Books. She is an associate professor at the University of Illinois.
Dr. Efrén Rivera Ramos is a full professor at the School of Law of the University of Puerto Rico. Dr. Rivera obtained a B.A. in Political Science and a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico, an LL.M. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from University College London. He is the author of The Legal Construction of Identity: The Judicial and Social Legacy of American Colonialism in Puerto Rico (APA Books, Washington DC, 2001) and of numerous chapters in collective works and articles in professional and academic journals on colonialism, the Insular Cases, self-determination, the political status of Puerto Rico, citizenship, cultural rights, the rights of refugees, democracy and rights, law and violence, equality, access to justice, the rule of law, freedom of information, legal education, and law and silence, among other topics. He was the Director of the Legal Project established by the Inter-Regional Council for Haitian Refugees to defend hundreds of Haitian refugees detained in Fort Allen, Puerto Rico in the 1980´s by the U.S. Immigration Service.
Julia Roth is Professor of American Studies with a focus on Gender Studies and Inter-American Studies at Bielefeld University, Germany. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the research project “The Americas as Space of Entanglements” in Bielefeld and in the interdisciplinary network “desiguALdades.net – Interdependent Inequalities in Latin America” at Freie Universität Berlin, as well as a lecturer at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Universität Potsdam, and Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico. Her research focuses on postcolonial, decolonial and gender approaches, intersectionality and global inequalities, anti-racist feminist knowledge from the Caribbean and the Americas, gender and citizenship, and right-wing populism and gender. In addition to her academic work, she organizes and curates cultural and political events (e.g., the theater festival “Women/Images of the Americas on the Move” in Berlin 2010; 2014 and 2016 BE.BOP – Black Europe Body Politics with Alanna Lockward, “De-Heimatize Belonging” at the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin).
More to be announced in the near future.