EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Monday, January 18, 2010

The AALS Poster Project: Ernesto Hernández-López's "Is race implicit in US authority over the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba?"


Professor Hernández-López is a professor at the Chapman University School of Law, where he has taught since 2005. He teaches Contracts I & II, Corporations, and Immigration and Refugee Law. Before attending law school, he served as an International Relations Research Professor at the Universidad del Rosario and as a Political Science Professor at the Universidad Javeriana, both in Santafé de Bogóta, Colombia. Some of his recent articles are Boumediene v. Bush and Guantanamo, Cuba: Does the 'Empire Strike Back'?, 61 SMU LAW REV. 117 (2009)Law Food, and Culture: Mexican Corn's National Identity Cooked in 'Tortilla Discourses' Post-TLC NAFTA, 18 ST. THOMAS LAW REV. 573 (2008) (LatCritXII symposium), and Law and Popular Culture: Examples from Colombian Slang and Spanish=Language Radio in U.S., 19 BERKELEY LA RAZA LAW JOURNAL 101 (2008).

Here is the abstract of his poster:

This poster illustrates the race-based and cultural assumptions implicit in American jurisdiction over the Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, from 1898 to the present. Using historical images of political cartoons, maps, and pictures, it illuminates how the law’s cultural and race-based assumptions influenced U.S. participation in: the War of 1898, the Platt Amendment (1902-1934), Cold War, detention of Haitian asylum-seekers in the 1990s, and War on Terror detention since 2002.  Guantánamo was conceived from Platt Amendment assumptions that Cuban independence required U.S. supervision of its foreign and economic relations, with a base and right of intervention. Notions of American superiority and Cuban inferiority characterized bilateral relations during occupation, protectorate status, and after the 1959 revolution, making the base an “anomalous legal zone.”  Current detention capitalizes on this anomaly, limiting rights protections for detainees.  The poster poses the working hypothesis that the law of detention relies on two cultural assumptions.  First, the denial of rights in international law for “unlawful enemy combatants” mimics historic exclusions for “savages” during colonial expansion.  Second, detainees overwhelmingly represent Arab, Middle-Eastern, and Central and South Asian nationalities.  Coupled with anti-Muslim rhetoric, base detentions capitalize on legal assumptions regarding Cubans, GTMO, and belligerents. In sum, the poster uses visual images to suggest how race-based and cultural assumptions make sovereignty and rights protections in international and constitutional law malleable under extraterritorial authority.

Here is his explanation of the poster:

This poster is part of a larger project examining ‘Guantánamo, law, and empire (past and present)’ in terms of space, culture, and markets.  Providing images of current and historic legal issues, the poster medium visually articulates cultural, spatial, and trends over time, perhaps more easily than text or engaging discussions.  Posters like blogs or webpages provide a fixed but easily produced medium to present ideas.  I submitted the poster to the AALS meeting, after prior successes with prior powerpoint and poster presentations at other conferences.  Because posters facilitate spatial, visual, comparative, and “big-picture” analyses and the ability for the audience to study at their leisure, I eagerly try to work with them.
Here are sources referenced by the poster:
·Ernesto Hernández-López, Boumediene v. Bush and Guantánamo, Cuba:  does the "Empire Strike Back"? 61 SMU Law Rev. 117-199 (2009) at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1224262 (using a post-colonial framework to argue U.S. occupation of base territory since 1898 frames how recent American law resolves detention disputes)

·Louis Pérez, Jr., Cuba in the American Imagination: Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos (2008) http://uncpress.unc.edu/browse/book_detail?title_id=1535 (arguing U.S.-Cuba policy is shaped by an imperial ethos from the nineteenth century to the present, viewing Cuba as female, child, racialized, and ungrateful and presenting political cartoons to that effect)

·Ediberto Roman, The Other American Colonies: an International and Constitutional Law Examination of The United States Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Island Conquests (2006) http://www.cap-press.com/isbn/9780890894996 (presenting how U.S. territories in the Caribbean and Pacific contradict liberal notions in American constitutional law and international law)

·Johnson, John J., Latin America in Caricature (1980) (compiling an extensive collection of political cartoons on Latin America subjects from U.S. newspapers and illustrating the racial, paternalistic, and gendered tropes of U.S. foreign policies)

·Jana Lipman, Guantanamo: A Working Class History Between Empire And Revolution (2009) (providing a cultural-history analysis of how Cuban, West Indian, and American base workers negotiated Cuban, American, and global conflicts on the base during the Platt Amendment and Cold War periods) http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/11120.php

·Gerald L. Neuman, Closing the Guantanamo Loophole, 50 Loyola Law Review 1 (2004) (presenting the legal history of the base as an “anomalous legal zone” and how this is used presently as “loophole” or exception to checks of executive power)

·Frédéric Mégret, From ‘Savages’ to ‘Unlawful Combatants’: A Postcolonial Look at International Humanitarian Law’s Otherin International Law and its Others (Anne Orford ed., 2006) (illustrating how initial exclusions of Geneva Convention protections for base detainees resembles historic reasoning excluding “savages” and “barbarians” from similar law of war protections during colonial wars)

·Guardian.co.uk ‘Guantánamo: 2002-09?’ available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2008/dec/04/guantanamo-bay?lightbox=1  (displaying images and data on base detentions)

And here are databases classifying detainees according to nationality/citizenship, status, charges, and other factors:

·Benjamin Wittes and Zaahira Wyne, Brookings Institute, “IntroductionThe Current Detainee Population of Guantánamo: An Empirical Study” available at http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2008/1216_detainees_wittes.aspx?rssid=wittesb

·Washington Post‘Names of the Detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba’ available at http://projects.washingtonpost.com/guantanamo/

·New York Times‘The Guantánamo Docket’ available at http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo



| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The AALS Poster Project: Ernesto Hernández-López's "Is race implicit in US authority over the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba?":


Post a comment