This summer, the University Archives offered a new program for undergraduate students called Duke History Revisited. The idea was to give students a chance to dig into the University’s history and tell the stories of people and events that were not widely known.
On September 19th, the program’s eight students will come together to recap their research projects. During this event, each student will briefly introduce his or her topic, highlight their research discoveries, and offer their own insight into Duke’s history. The presentations will be followed by refreshments and an opportunity to talk with the students in more detail.
The DHR students spent 6 weeks working with faculty members Jolie Olcott and Joshua Sosin; graduate student Will Goldsmith; and archivists Amy McDonald and Valerie Gillispie. The group met twice a week to discuss progress and share research. This special program was made possible by a grant from Humanities Writ Large and the Office of the Dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.
We also welcomed a number of special guests to the program to talk about the act of doing research or reflecting on the past. Our guests included William Turner (T ’71, M.Div ’74, PhD ’84), Charles Becton (Law ‘69), Brenda Becton (WC ‘70, Law ‘74), Bob Ashley (T ’70), Steve Schewel (T ’73, PhD ’82), and Robert Korstad (Duke faculty). We were also joined by experts from the library, including Tracy Jackson and Matthew Farrell (University Archives), John Gartrell (John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History), Laura Micham and Kelly Wooten (Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture), Hannah Rozear (Librarian for Instruction), and Michael Daul (Digital Collections).
The students pursued a wide range of topics, using archival materials from the University Archives, materials from other repositories, oral histories and interviews, and other sources. Each created a final project that they felt best expressed the content. The titles and links to the projects are below:
Sometimes you set out to write a pleasant blog post about a turn-of-the-last-century Trinity College student’s short stories and end up correcting a moment of Duke University history you didn’t even realize needed correcting.
Lifelong Durham resident Lizzie F. Burch was a member of Trinity College’s Class of 1900. The Rubenstein Library has a collection of papers from Burch’s school days, so I took a look through them, hoping to learn more about life at Trinity College a few years after its relocation to Durham. Burch died in 1945, and it’s lovely to know that she took such good care of the essays she wrote and the notes she took in her Trinity College classes for over forty years.
Browsing through the papers and short stories written for her English classes, I came across an essay from her 1898 sophomore English class titled “The Anne Roney Plot.” This plot was a small garden at the end of Trinity College’s entrance drive, just in front of the Washington Duke Building (the college’s main building, which burned down in 1911; it sat roughly where East Duke Building is now).
The plot contained a tiered fountain, given to Trinity College by Anne Roney, aunt to Mary, Benjamin, and James Buchanan Duke. If you’ve visited the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in the past few years, you may have seen the fountain at the center of the Gardens’ Mary Duke Biddle Rose Garden; it was moved from East Campus in 2011.
Here’s Lizzie Burch’s essay on the plot and its fountain.
Funny thing is, the University Archives is on record as stating that the fountain was donated and placed in front of the Washington Duke Building in 1901.
There’s a good reason we made our initial claim. Back then, Trinity College included information about major gifts given to the college in the annual academic bulletins. The bulletin released in Spring 1901 includes the first mention of Anne Roney’s gift to the campus:
But this doesn’t quite jibe with our friend Lizzie’s essay, so we turned to the Office of University Development’s records, which contain accounts—in several very detailed and very heavy ledgers—of long-ago gifts to the college.
The ledgers directed us to the May 1897 issue of the Trinity Archive (yep, the ancestor of the current Archive), where we found the following paragraph in an article titled “Growth of the College during the Year”:
So, 1897 it is. We very humbly stand corrected. Sometimes our sources are unclear, incomplete, or just plain wrong, and we are always glad to be able to revise and clarify, even if it means admitting our own mistakes!
Amari Victoria Stokes was a student in Kelly Alexander’s Our CulinaryCultures course offered in the Fall 2015 semester in the Center for Documentary Studies. Utilizing Rubenstein Library resources, students in the class were asked to explore the history of a culinary ingredient of their choice, find a recipe that exemplified their chosen ingredient, and prepare it for the class. The following is Amari’s research paper submitted for the class.
Two eggs well beaten, one-cup brown sugar, two teaspoons ginger, one-cup N.O. molasses (boiled), one-teaspoon baking soda, flour to roll out. Mix in the order given. I poured the molasses into a pot and watched small bubbles form and subsequently burst as the dark liquid began to heat. As the molasses boiled on the stove, I started mixing the ingredients in the order specified in the recipe. After the eggs had been beaten furiously with my new silver whisk, I began to measure the brown sugar for what I hoped would be a delicious dessert.
Sticky and compact, I remember struggling to handle this strange sugar during family barbeques as we seasoned our meat. As I thought about it, I realized besides an occasional pineapple upside down cake, outside of barbeque, I couldn’t recall ever having used brown sugar. Why was that, I asked?
The story of brown sugar begins, unsurprisingly, with the story of sugar. Sugars are natural ingredients found in most plants but what we have come to known as sugar is often extracted from sugarcane and sugar beets. Sugar cane, from the genus Saccharum, was originally cultivated in tropical climates in South and Southeast Asia.1 Neither should it be a surprise that the road from brown sugar to white sugar looks very much like the roads taken to get to white bread, white flour, and white cotton. All have similar histories where the unnatural but white version is preferred or is seen as a higher quality than the browner, natural varieties.2
Three hundred years after being introduced to Europeans by Christopher Columbus in 1492,3 by the 19th Century, sugar was considered a necessity.4 This evolution of taste and demand for sugar had major economic and social implications for the entire world. As a result of this demand, tropical islands were colonized and sugarcane plantations began ‘cropping up’ in record numbers. Consequently, the demand for cheap labor to assist in the labor-intensive cultivation and processing of sugarcane contributed greatly to the transatlantic slave trade, which displaced many African peoples.5
As I turned down the heat on the molasses to allow it simmer, I carefully added ground ginger. Watching the ginger disappear into the creamy brown concoction, I thought back to my ancestors. It wouldn’t surprise me if at some point in history one of them had made the same treat for her master’s children while her own children toiled in the hot sun picking cotton or harvesting sugarcane.
Culture Clash is a series of exhibits, created by the Center for Multicultural Affairs (CMA), traditionally hosted in the Alcove outside of the CMA Lounge. Culture Clash aims to provide multicultural and social justice education to build and/or strengthen bridges between different communities at Duke and beyond. The exhibit provides members of the Duke community and guests of the CMA the opportunity to explore the intricacies of the human experience with the focus on building sustainable, authentic, and healthy relationships and communities.
This year’s culture clash, which is on display through February 1st, 2016 at Perkins Library’s Campus Club Wall, is entitled “From Sit-Ins to Hashtags”. The exhibit explores the patterns of student social justice work and activism both at Duke and beyond throughout history. The photos depict different trends and styles of activism in the different decades.
Curating Culture Clash has been a wonderful learning experience. I have a new appreciation for museums and exhibits; until now I never really realized how much thought and effort goes into a project of this nature. From beginning to end, this project has been about learning. The research aspect of the project was fairly intuitive because here at Duke we are always doing research. Finding movements to document and represent wasn’t overly challenging. Even finding an equal representation of photos from each decade was a fairly smooth process due to the help of the University Archives.
The challenge in this project came with deciding on how to visually present all of the photos. Juggling some 70 odd photos and 19 photo frames and 126 square feet of wall space was an experience. For me especially, I struggle with visualizing; I need something concrete to look at. The later part of the curation process involved a lot of cutting paper models and trying to learn how to visualize the small picture within the big picture. However, teamwork makes the dream work here at the Center. As a team, we made all the pieces come together in the end. We are very happy with the final outcome of the project.
We hope that from this exhibit students can understand how student social justice work has transpired in the past, and perhaps find inspiration to be an advocate for a cause that moves them.
We would like to give a special thanks to Margaret Brown, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Exhibits Coordinator, and Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist, for all of their help throughout the curation process.
Every year we rely on a group of dedicated undergraduate student workers who do a little bit of everything to keep the Rubenstein Library running smoothly, but you might not know it since they’re usually working behind the scenes. Since it’s the end of the school year, we wanted to highlight our graduating seniors who will be leaving us. We’re grateful for all of their hard work and are consistently impressed by all that they accomplish in addition to working with us. Meet Rebecca Williams:
My days at Rubenstein Library begin in a routine fashion. I walk to the back office area, put my backpack in a locker, and begin a tour of the stacks. I scan the shelves to check for basic tasks that need to be completed: items to be re-shelved, books to be packaged for shipping, or items to be pulled for patrons. However the last year that I have spent working as a Student Assistant for the Research Services Department has been anything but routine. Sometimes books are not where I thought they would be. Sometimes an item does not arrive from the off campus site. I relish the time I get to spend solving these simple problems.
After completing my daily tasks, I turn my attention to a variety of long and short-term projects. Some of these projects or tasks have included making container lists for various collections, vacuuming books, or helping to process a new collection. I also help to unload the deliveries that come from the LSC, notify patrons of their arrival, and shelve them on-site. Many of my shifts are also spent at the front desk where I enjoy helping the patrons that come into Rubenstein Library. I really have gotten to do a little bit of everything here.
This fall I’ll be heading to Chapel Hill to pursue a Masters in Library Science at UNC’s School of Information and Library Science. I’m also very excited to have the opportunity to work there in the Special Collections Research and Instructional Services Department as well. Working at Rubenstein has helped to confirm I want to stay working in the library world for a long time to come. I will miss all of the wonderful staff here at Rubenstein Library, but I will not be that far away, so hopefully I will be back in the future!
Every year we rely on a group of dedicated undergraduate student workers who do a little bit of everything to keep the Rubenstein Library running smoothly, but you might not know it since they’re usually working behind the scenes. Since it’s the end of the school year, we wanted to highlight our graduating seniors who will be leaving us. We’re grateful for all of their hard work and are consistently impressed by all that they accomplish in addition to working with us. Meet Taylor Imperiale:
I’ve been working at the Rubenstein Library since the beginning of my junior year at Duke. I’m now a senior on my way out, so it feels like I’ve been here for quite a while. Over the past two years, the library has certainly undergone a whole lot of changes and the work I do has changed quite a bit as well.
I always enjoy working evening shifts helping patrons at the front desk. On my daytime shifts, you would usually find me in the stacks reshelving items, particularly in the old stacks, organizing some collection, or doing some sort of arts and crafts type activity. For the past year or so I have been working on a project to rehouse our sheet music collection to send it all offsite. I had hoped to finish it by the time I graduate, but alas, I am only about a third of the way through. I wish my successor the best of luck in this seemingly endless, but quite relaxing, task.
Now for a bit about me. In May I’ll be graduating (fingers crossed) with degrees in political science and history and a minor in Spanish. I’ll be spending the next two years teaching Spanish in Philadelphia through Teach for America. After my two-year stint as a teacher, I’ll be moving on to attend the University of Chicago Law School. As it turns out, the generosity of Mr. Rubenstein seems to follow me everywhere because I have been offered a law school scholarship that bears his name. I can’t help but think that having the Rubenstein name on my resume helped me get the scholarship offer.
I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time working here. The staff has always been really friendly and supportive and made me feel like a part of the family. I’d like to thank Josh and Liz especially for being great supervisors, as well as the rest of the staff that made my time here so pleasant. In a couple of months when I’m sure to be missing Duke, I’ll certainly be missing the great folks at the Rubenstein Library.
In August of this past year, I was hired as the student assistant for the Duke University Archives. The position is a thrill because it enables me to get paid for a hobby of mine: learning about Duke’s rich and diverse history.
Several of my projects have required me to use the Chanticleer, the university’s yearbook (view digitized volumes!), as a research tool. Scanning through old Chanticleers, it is interesting to observe the transformations in styles of clothes and hair from 1912 to the present day. Additionally, it is interesting to look at students with American history in mind. While researching, I found evidence of students’ mindsets during various points in American history: the world wars; the Jim Crow Era; the integration of Duke; the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.; Vietnam; Watergate; and 9/11.
The Chanticleer makes it very clear that Dukies of yesteryear—like Dukies of today—enjoy their time at Duke. Duke students have always been dedicated to making Duke a home through involvement in various organizations, academics, and general college fun.
One club that caught my attention as representing the jest of college students was the Hades Club, which existed during the 1920s. The club described itself as, “An organization of ministers’ sons and daughters who have never been caught,” and club members referred to themselves as “imps and impesses.”
The sight of familiar buildings has been most impactful during my research. Amidst all the natural construction that takes place in academia, Duke has remained remarkably unchanged since about 1928. Students throughout the Chanticleer are posed and candidly photographed around West Union, Baldwin and Page, the Plaza, Wallace Wade and Cameron, and the various dorms. These scenes around Duke serve as a link between the eras.
After a semester discovering more Duke history, I now often walk the university’s unchanged pathways and look at its unchanged buildings wondering, “What fellow Dukie was walking these very steps fifty or one hundred years ago? What was on his or her mind that day? What was he or she headed to? Was it the same thing I am going to do now?”
It feels incredible to be part of the Duke legacy.
Post contributed by C. Bradford Ellison, student assistant for the Duke University Archives.
This spring I assisted my supervisor in processing the Duke Student Government (DSG) Records. One day he called me over to look at a report he had found called “A Color-Coded Guide to Campus Living Groups.” Prepared in the summer of 1992 by Adrianne G. Threatt, this report truly was colorful. It was divided in two parts with maps of the campus living groups on Main West Campus, Edens Quadrangle, East Campus, and North Campus. Part II was straightforward, with four maps showing the approximate number of residents per living group. But Part I showed the same four maps with hand-written commentary about the “distinguishing characteristics” of each living group. Looking at these comments reminded me of my own experience with Duke dorms and their “distinguishing characteristics.”
One day shortly after my freshman year began, I walked into my dorm, Giles, to find all my friends crowded around a single laptop. My roommate was pointing to the screen animatedly, so I stopped to see what all the girls were looking at: it was a list of all the dorms on East Campus, with blurbs about the reputations of each. Giles, it said, was “home to pretty girls who like to have a good time.” Being freshmen, we of course knew everything on the internet is true: we all must have been placed in Giles because the all-knowing, all-seeing Duke housing lottery deemed us pretty girls who liked to have a good time.
Seeing the color-coded maps, then, I was eager to find out the “distinguishing characteristics” for Giles in 1992. According to the guide, Giles was “the dorm for women who were serious about living in an all-female dorm, but their man-hating image has declined in the past couple of years. Now they have a more main-stream group of girls.” To say the least, a far cry from what my friends and I had read 18 years later, in the fall of 2010.
What else had changed about East Campus? The first thing I noticed was that East was not an all-freshman campus. There were fraternity sections, for one thing, and “swing dorms,” which were used as either upper-class or freshman dorms.. In Wilson, there were three fraternity sections—ΣX (Sigma Chi), ΦKΣ (Phi Kappa Sigma), and ΔKE (Delta Kappa Epsilon)—which the author of the maps noted as “apparently a disastrous arrangement.” The “artsy dorm” in 1992 was Epworth, whereas Pegram had that title by my freshman year. Half of Bassett in 1992 was AEΠ’s (Alpha Epsilon Pi) section and the people who chose to live on the other half of Bassett were described as having “group unity” and as being “really religious.” I have only known Bassett as the dorm where all the basketball players lived.
Despite all these changes, many things have stayed the same. In 1992, KA’s (Kappa Alpha) section was in half of Brown; the author described KA as “the Southern fraternity,” who likes “big parties and cooking out.” This reputation holds true today. AEΠ was known as “the Jewish fraternity” and as a “great group of guys” who had “cool theme parties, like Casino night, but their kegs are pretty lame.” AEΠ is still the Jewish fraternity and still considered to be a great group of guys who have fun parties. As to their current kegs quality—no comment.
Being at Duke is exciting because the history that is everywhere makes us feel like part of a much bigger legacy. Yet, we are still able to make that legacy our own. This is why we see both reputations that persist through the years and reputations that constantly change. I would be interested to hear how other students and alums feel about Duke’s “distinguishing characteristics” over the years.
Do you see your Duke in the color-coded guide to the Duke of 1992?
The Rwandan audiotapes of the International Monitor Institute (IMI) records are comprised almost entirely of the transcripts of radio broadcasts translated from Kinyarwanda into French and English. These are the broadcasts which aired in 1994 during the Rwandan genocide, which took place from April through early July of that year and in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred. The genocide was triggered by the assassination of Hutu President Habyarimana on April 6, 1994. An IMI piece on radio as a tool of genocide (available in the organizational records) summarizes these events: “His plane was shot down on his return from Arusha, Tanzania, where he met with RPF leaders and signed an agreement further limiting his regime’s hold on power (known as the August 1993 Arusha Accords).”
During colonization from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, the German and Belgian colonial elite manufactured a native elite in the Tutsis, a process of colonization that Franz Fanon describes in The Wretched of the Earth. Hutus thus experienced discrimination in education and various sectors of the economy. In 1959, Hutus took control of Rwanda following the independence movement, forcing many Tutsis to seek refuge in neighboring countries. In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) comprised of exiled Tutsis, invaded Rwanda, initiating a civil war. Habyarimana’s assassination resulted in an escalation of Hutu anxiety that the Tutsis would seize power of the government and that discrimination against Hutus would be reestablished.
Radio became a powerful weapon used to incite and direct the Rwandan genocide. The majority of radio broadcasts in the Rwandan audiotapes collection are from the privately-owned Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM). What I found especially interesting about the content of these broadcasts (the transcripts of which can be found in the IMI organizational records and the audiotapes of which can be found in the Rwandan Videotapes and Audiotapes inventory) was the way in which its efforts to direct the extermination of the Tutsi population was paralleled by its efforts to claim authority over the telling of history. The radio broadcasts reveal a struggle over who gets to tell history and, therefore, a struggle over a monopoly on truth. In other words, the RTLM broadcasts exhibit a phenomenon which seems to be more universally true, which is the political necessity of storytelling.
There are a few particularly conspicuous aspects of the history-telling of the RTLM broadcasts, one being the discourse of revelation or enlightenment – the idea that if we only peel back the layers, we can finally see the truth. And this encounter with the truth is the basis for political action, or, in this case, the basis on which genocide becomes justified. “Slavery,” for example, is a term that is repeated throughout these broadcasts. Several journalists recall the state of Hutu slavery during colonization in order to characterize the discrimination Hutus experienced. Drawing on such a vocabulary, the radio broadcasts attempt to illuminate the Rwandan genocide as a slave rebellion. Freedom from slavery, according to this narrative, lies in the ability to discover the true history and nature of that discrimination, in opposition to the stories of the colonizers and the native elite. For the same reason, I’m less interested in the truth or accuracy of this, or any, construction of history than in the need and tendency to construct history more generally.
In one broadcast which aired on April 12, 1994 (6 days after Habyarimana’s assassination),[ii] Georges Ruggiu gives his audience a history lesson. He evokes Tutsi discrimination against Hutus in the colonial educational system and the ways in which the Germans and Belgians perpetuated this discrimination. Ruggiu situates the RPF’s efforts to seize power in Rwanda and oppress Hutus within that context. “Now we are going to continue with history,” he begins one segment. He goes on to describe how Hutus, beginning with the first school for Tutsis in 1917, were denied education and how, as a result of this denial of access, the Hutu became slaves to the Tutsi “who, according to the colonial legend, were born to rule.” I suspect that Ruggiu does not understand Hutu slavery as merely metaphorical. The discourse of slavery in these broadcasts seems to represent Hutu slavery as naked reality; that is, these broadcasts understand historical Hutu slavery to be literal. Indeed, in the segment that follows, Ruggiu draws on historical documents that testify to the fact that historically “Tutsis killed Hutu kings and enslaved Hutu people.”
In a second broadcast from April 17, 1994 (11 days after the assassination), journalist Agenesta Mukarutama leads a roundtable discussion about how the RPF seeks to return Rwanda to its pre-revolutionary time in which the Tutsi commanded and the Hutu obeyed. “But,” the broadcast tells us, “Rwandans have learned their history and are ‘saying no’ to a repetition of history.” Genocide is perceived as the only way to break out of an historical cycle of discrimination and oppression. Murego argues that “what it [the RPF] did not understand is a lesson from history. In fact, the political skeleton before ‘59 is clear: Some people command and others obeyed, and the RPF inserted its objectives in that scope . . . Since the conditions have changed, there is now no way to impose oneself as it was before . . . what happened is that it is a genuine restoration of the former reality where some people commanded, you understand who, and others have learnt to say ‘no.’ That is where the president of the PL [le Parti libéral] has made an important statement: ‘those who are saying no today, they are saying no considering their history, the history of their country . . .’” (emphasis is mine).
By suggesting that “there is now no way,” that is, that it would be either impracticable or unbearable for Rwanda to return to a pre-revolutionary state governed by colonial structures, Murego essentially makes a philosophical statement about history – not just what the content of that history is, but more specifically, the temporality in which revolutionary history operates. The Rwandan genocide here is not just a “saying no” to Tutsi rule; it is a “saying no” to a particular conception of the temporality of history that stands in opposition to the revolutionary conception of history. Murego’s argument, here, seems to be that the RPF does not understand how historical time actually works. Ngirumpatse, a participant of the roundtable, follows this up:
“First thing, at the risk of disappointing many Rwandans, especially the educated people, I have always considered the Arusha Agreements as an exception in the people’s history. No any people make a revolution just once. France has made a Revolution, it had two or three restorations, it took 100 years for the Republic to impose itself. When I say Republic, I mean the power of people. . . . So I consider the Arusha Agreements as an exception in the people’s history.” Ngirumpatse makes this claim repeatedly: “I consider the Arusha agreements as an exception in history.”
Ngirumpatse refers to the Arusha Accords as exceptional insofar as they are exceptionally generous; this generosity, it seems, arises from the mistaken belief among Rwandans that their revolution was finished once and for all. But again, what is more interesting to me is the temporality of the historical discourse within the broadcasts themselves – the repetition of the insistence that history cannot and will not repeat itself.
Post contributed by Clare Callahan, graduate student assistant in Rubenstein Technical Services and the Human Rights Archive.
We recently completed processing the Americans for Immigrant Justice (AIJ) Records. Formerly the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), AIJ is a not-for profit legal organization that advocates on behalf of immigrants and refugees, including those being held at various detention centers, such as Guantanamo, Krome and Turner Guilford Knight. The majority of the material in this collection deals with the Haitian refugee population in Florida. Two aspects of this collection struck me. First, while this collection contains material that addresses the Haitian refugee crises from a broader political and historical perspective, it is notable for the quantity of material it contains that focuses on the stories and testimonies of individual refugees, in their own words, in documents such as affidavits and correspondence.
The second aspect of this collection that struck me as particularly interesting is the amount of material it contains on children – child refugees and detainees, children seeking asylum, children stranded in Haiti, and especially unaccompanied minors. As I became more familiar with this collection, I became especially interested in the detained child as both a fact and an idea. Sifting through accounts both by and about children of their emotional, mental, and physical experiences in detention, I began to wonder how the search for asylum and subsequent detention is conceived of by children.
The reason why this subject fascinated me is because of the strong incongruity in the idea of the child, on the one hand, and the idea of imprisonment of any kind, on the other, an incongruity that suggested to me that accounts of children in detention might uniquely illuminate how we think about detention and refuge. We often associate children with places of refuge, with a powerful need for and unique faculty to find or construct places of refuge. One example of this faculty is play. As I looked through photographs of and read testimony by children detained at Guantanamo, I began to wonder what place “play” has in detention, in homelessness, and in lack of refuge.
The subset of documents about which I am writing are dated from around the early and mid-1990s, during and following the campaign of terror against Aristide supporters. One must bear in mind that the majority of Haitian refugees held at Guantanamo at this time were forcibly returned to Haiti where their lives were imperiled (5,000 Aristide supporters were estimated to be killed in 1993). In fact, many of the children detained at Guantanamo were unaccompanied for precisely this reason – their parents or caretakers had been killed in Haiti during this period. As the AIJ Records reveal, many of these children, upon repatriation, were thus compelled to eke out a living on the streets.
So, how does the child reconfigure the way we conceive of detention? Three photographs from the Photographic Materials Series caught my attention. After I selected them, I asked myself why I had been drawn to them, and I realized that in each, a child or children were holding some kind of object – a fish, makeshift drums, a guitar.
I considered these photographs against the written testimony about and by children detained at Guantanamo (information packets, emergency action requests related to medical conditions, correspondence, affidavits, reports, etc.). The written documentation described abuses, including rape, that were committed at Guantanamo against women and children. Child detainees, not surprisingly, wrote of their desperation and depression (their own words), and observers of these children offered similar accounts. Yet, these children not only subsist at Guantanamo but also, as the photographs above communicate, find ways to play. It is not difficult to perceive a form of resistance in their play, in their insistence upon occupying places that we cannot envision as inhabitable. I was likewise captivated by the photographs in which children are holding objects because they seem to me to manifest the construction of places of refuge within displacement and dispossession. The subjects in these photographs seek asylum in the objects themselves. There is something about gripping an object, possessing that object, that also solidifies the reality of oneself – and this in a place in which that very reality is relentlessly objected to – in abuse, obscurity, neglect, remaining unheard.
Post contributed by Clare Callahan, graduate student assistant in Rubenstein Technical Services and the Human Rights Archive.
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University