Call for Papers—“Guantánamo: What’s Next?”


[Many thanks to Don Walicek for bringing this item to our attention.] This call is for an issue to be titled Guantánamo: What’s Next? The journal’s editors invite writers, researchers, artists, poets, and others to submit work that ponders “Guantánamo” and the future. The editors hope to receive work that questions assumptions about linear temporality which present the future as a realm over which we have extremely limited control. This issue will include academic essays, short fiction, testimonies, interviews, poetry, and/or visual art.

The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2018.

Description/Guidelines: For this upcoming issue, SARGASSO, A Journal of Caribbean Literature, Language, and Culture invites writers, researchers, artists, poets, and others to submit work that ponders “Guantánamo” and the future. Various incarnations of Guantánamo—the spectacular geography of the bay, the prison and detention facilities, the oldest offshore U.S. naval base, the Cuban province on the other side of la cerca, and the metaphor signaling danger and lawlessness, among others—are active in the discursive construction of how people in the Caribbean and other parts of the world envision concepts of freedom, persecution, security, sovereignty, terrorism, and justice. Nevertheless, the analysis of these ideas and of the complexities of Guantánamo tends to be a task of retrospection, and many such readings are void of the hope, creativity, and speculation so crucial to preparing for tomorrow.

Numerous events that are connected to Guantánamo underscore the transformative power of calls for the more humane treatment of migrants, prisoners, and refugees at the same time that they summon us to look to the future proactively. We recall the collective outrage about the detention camps at “Gitmo” where the U.S. military held Haitians and Cubans under horrifying conditions in the 1990s. Fiction writers, artists, actors, and musicians joined students, activists, lawyers, and politicians in speaking out against a wide variety of abuses. They insisted on a future that would be distinct from their present, and their actions contributed to the pressure that led the administration of president Bill Clinton to eventually empty the controversial camps and to end the inhumane practices that had been implemented in them.

But given that Barack Obama also promised to close Guantánamo when he ran for office in 2008, at times the history of the bay seems doomed to repeat itself. This time the focus was on the infamous extra-legal prison, a place where men identified as enemy combatants were tortured and held indefinitely without any charges pressed against them. Artists, writers, performers, legal experts, and others called for an end to the abuses that had made “Guantánamo” a household word associated with danger in societies all over the planet. However, Obama’s administration, hindered by what some consider a lack of foresight, eventually pushed for the ongoing detention of prisoners, failed to free some men who had been cleared for release, and never closed the facility. Early this year U.S. President Donald Trump revoked Obama’s order to close the prison, and today 40 men are incarcerated there.

Raising new questions about the future of the base, the U.S. federal government recently moved forward with plans to build a new Contingency Mass Migration Complex at Guantánamo Bay, indicating that it could bring back the nightmarish offshore detention centers of prior decades. These and other developments underscore the need to question assumptions about linear temporality that present the future as a realm over which we have extremely limited control.

Moreover, as debates about migrants, refugees, terrorism, and U.S. foreign policy become increasingly divisive, Guantánamo Bay continues to make headlines in various parts of the world. For example, in May 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Lithuania and Romania were complicit in a controversial CIA program that allowed high-level Guantánamo detainees to be tortured and abused at the agency’s “black sites.” Meanwhile, in Mauritania and Morocco, former prisoners Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Ahmed Errachidi recently completed writings in which they share the latest chapters of their stories. In Guantánamo City, Cuba, the government protested 120 years of the bay’s illegal “Yankee occupation” in June 2018, identifying the base as an obstacle to the economic development of the surrounding region.  About two weeks later, the European Union’s top migration official described future “disembarkation platforms” for unwanted migrants and asylum seekers, specifying that such external bases would not be a “Guantánamo Bay,” given that what has happened there is “against European values.”

Considering the far-reaching implications of these and other developments, what is next? What should Guantánamo become? What does the future look like for the Caribbean region that is its immediate context? What forms, meanings, and positions can this place assume in the world of tomorrow? What must it not be? What are practitioners of the arts and humanities who want to promote justice and ethical decision-making to do?

The editors hope to receive work that offers new narratives about Guantánamo Bay and its significance in the world. Of special interest are submissions that put to use the accomplishments, insights, and hard-earned lessons of the past, as well as projects that identify the methodological and epistemological insights emerging from future-focused scholarship and related creative work. This issue will include academic essays, short fiction, interviews, poetry, and visual art.

Manuscripts are due by October 1, 2018. Potential contributors will be notified of the status of their submissions by November 1, 2018.

Work can be submitted in English, Spanish, French, or any other Caribbean language. Essays, which must conform to Sargasso’s style guide and be prepared in Word, should be double-spaced, and consist of 5,000 to 6,000 words. Abstracts of 120 words or less with 3-5 key words should accompany essays. Contributors are encouraged to include photos, illustrations, and other graphics with their work. Electronic submissions and inquiries should be directed to

Sargasso is a peer-reviewed journal that has been edited at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, for more than 30 years. The journal features work on the languages, literatures, and cultures of the Caribbean and its multiple diasporas.

[Photo above: Detail from Don E. Walicek’s book cover:]

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