COLUMBIA — The University of South Carolina will host the Guantanamo Public Memory Project from Sept. 17 to Nov. 21.
The exhibition, which started as a collaborative project between faculty and staff at 12 universities and has since traveled internationally, will be displayed at the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 24 in the Museum’s second floor lobby.
The Guantanamo Public Memory Project tells the history of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from its establishment in 1898 to the present.
In tracing this history using multimedia platforms, visitors will be able to explore and engage in the discussion of how changes in the Naval Base’s use have embodied cultural, political, and legal trends in American history.
As part of the exhibition, people affiliated with GTMO share their memories of the place, both positive and negative, as the exhibition seeks to foster an on-going dialogue about the future of GTMO and the policies it shapes.
“People tend to forget that Guantánamo was open long before 9/11. In fact, it’s been closed and reopened before,” said Liz Sevcenko, who directs the project from Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. “As GTMO is increasingly pushed back into the spotlight, it’s vital to remember the many ways it was used before, and the many lives it shaped. We’re hoping to use this new perspective to open a national dialogue on what GTMO’s past suggests for how it could – and should – be used now, and long after the end of the ‘War on Terror’.”
In addition to hosting the traveling exhibition, students from the Public History Program at the University of South Carolina have curated three smaller exhibitions on research topics related to the Guantanamo Public Memory Project.
Each of these will be displayed in concert with the main exhibition. The first of these, “Creating Culture: From Cuba to the Palmetto State,” explores through oral histories how five Cuban immigrants experienced their journeys from Cuba to South Carolina and the changes to their identity that living in South Carolina has caused.
The second, “Caught in the Crosshairs: Guantanamo Bay at the Height of the Cold War,” uses oral histories, written testimonies, and objects to analyze the experiences of Americans and Cubans living in Guantanamo in the 1960s.
Finally, “Adapting GTMO: The Environment and Sustainability on an Isolated Navy Base,” focuses on how GTMO has started to turn to sustainable energy practices and environmental policies in an attempt to adapt to the challenging political circumstances in which the base finds itself.
Public programming for the exhibition will include a series of film screenings and discussions, information about which is forthcoming.
The exhibition is sponsored locally by the USC History Department, and the Walker Institute of International and Areas Studies.
The McKissick Museum is located at 816 Bull St. in Columbia on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe. Parking is available in the garage at the corner of Pendleton and Bull streets. All exhibits are free and open to the public. Museum hours are 8:30 a.m.to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The museum is closed Sundays and state holidays.