Call for Papers

Camps, (In)justice, and Solidarity in the Americas


Camps, (In)justice, and Solidarity in the Americas

Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camps

January 28-31, 2022, University of Graz, Austria

The 1st Graz/Puerto Rico International Conference on Human Rights from an Inter-American Perspective

Organized by the Center for Inter-American Studies, University of Graz, together with the Department of English, College of Humanities, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras

January 2022 will mark the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the Guantánamo Bay detention camps, which were used as a U.S. military prison just months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in 2001. Such anniversaries offer opportunities to pause, look back, and imagine the future anew, but what insights will this one foster? Shortly after detention operations involving suspected terrorists began at Guantánamo Bay, the late American Studies scholar Amy Kaplan referred to the U.S. naval base as “a location where many narratives about the Americas intersect” and speculated that it was an anomaly that could become a norm. In the almost two decades that have passed since then, the narratives that Kaplan refers to still call for analysis and discussion. We therefore invite you to contextualize detention in terms of a broad typology of camps and camp-like institutions in the Americas: detention and internment camps, prisoner-of-war camps, labor camps, black sites, offshore detention centers, concentration and re-education camps, and prison units, among others. Graz stands out as an appropriate environment for exploring these topics given its status as the first European “Human Rights City.” The aim of the conference is to facilitate interdisciplinary and intersectional exchange and discourse by featuring work that explores narratives of (in)justices, human rights, and solidarities in the Americas.

Abstracts of 200-350 words for a 20-minute presentation or a poster should be submitted to by February 1, 2021. Please, include a biography of 100 words or less. Proposals for presenting poetry, art, film, and other creative work will also be considered. The languages of the conference are English and Spanish, and abstracts will be accepted in both languages. Topics to be addressed at the conference include but are not limited to:

  • The past and current status of Guantánamo Bay’s detention facilities
  • Indian reductions (reducciones de indios) and Native American reservations
  • Prisoners of war and refugee camps, such as in WW I and II, in the Americas
  • Activism and human rights advocacy in the Americas
  • Memoirs, essays, and poetry by former detainees in the Americas
  • Dimensions of personal identity (intersections of race, class, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation) in the context of detention camps and facilities in the Americas
  • Truth and reconciliation commissions in the Americas and on the global scale
  • Abolitionism, military prisons and detention
  • Censorship and other reactions to art by former detainees and prisoners
  • Representations of detention facilities in the Americas in media, art and popular culture
  • Guantánamo, the War on Terror and other detention facilities in the university classroom
  • Political discourse analysis and (anti-)terrorism
  • (In)Just treatment and violations of the human rights of detainees in the Americas
  • Intersectional solidarity and the future

The conference will feature presentations by keynote speakers, specialists on Guantánamo, and scholars from a wide range of fields. It will include sessions on special topics, a poster session, and an excursion to a former concentration camp at nearby Wagna/Leibnitz. A selection of presentations will be published in an edited volume following the conference.