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A New No-Man's-Land: Writing and Art at Guantánamo, Cuba (Pitt Illuminations)

A New No-Man's-Land: Writing and Art at Guantánamo, Cuba (Pitt Illuminations)

Current price: $50.00
Publication Date: May 28th, 2024
University of Pittsburgh Press
Available for Preorder


Guantánamo sits at the center of two of the most vexing issues of US policy of the past century: relations with Cuba and the Global War on Terror. It is a contested, extralegal space. In A New No-Man’s-Land, Esther Whitfield explores a multilingual archive of materials produced both at the US naval base and in neighboring Cuban communities and proposes an understanding of Guantánamo as a coherent borderland region, where experiences of isolation are opportunities to find common ground. She analyzes poetry, art, memoirs, and documentary films produced on both sides of the border. Authors and artists include prisoners, guards, linguists, chaplains, lawyers, and journalists, as well as Cuban artists and dissidents. Their work reveals surprising similarities: limited access to power and self-representation, mobility restricted by geography if not captivity, and immersion in political languages that have ascribed them rigid roles. Read together, the work of these disparate communities traces networks that extend among individuals in the Guantánamo region, inward to Cuba, and outward to the Caribbean, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. 

About the Author

Esther Whitfield is associate professor of comparative literature and Hispanic studies at Brown University. She is author of Cuban Currency: The Dollar and ‘Special Period’ Fiction and coeditor, with Jacqueline Loss, of New Short Fiction from Cuba and, with Anke Birkenmaier, of Havana beyond the Ruins: Cultural Mappings after 1989. With Katerina Gonzalez Seligmann, she translated José Ramón Sánchez Leyva’s poetry collection, The Black Arrow. 

Praise for A New No-Man's-Land: Writing and Art at Guantánamo, Cuba (Pitt Illuminations)

“This is a necessary book, not only for the evident quality of its research but also for its contribution toward broadening the scope of Cuban studies.”
—José Quiroga, Emory University

“In this definitive study of Guantánamera cultural production, Whitfield highlights not divisions but the site’s environmental commonalities, unexpected and asymmetric connections, and moments of care and beauty. The fascinating, little-known stories of creativity and life illuminated here map a potential postconflict terrain—one already blooming in the fissures of the ostensible no-man’s-land.”
—Rachel Price, Princeton University

“Bringing together archives from the Cuban region of Guantánamo and its role in the War on Terror, Whitfield traces intimacies and themes that echo across this fraught space. A New No-Man’s-Land’s careful analysis of Spanish and Anglophone local and transnational texts offers a vital corrective to singular readings of Guantánamo since it first began housing War on Terror detainees in 2002. Be sure to read to the end.”
—Alexandra S. Moore, Binghamton University

“This outstanding book humanizes one of the most complex areas of the world in the last decades. The excellent research and elegant, measured prose reveal the human cost involved in indefinite isolation and extreme vulnerability, the intimacies that arise in the process, and the value of artistic expression to remain human even in inhuman conditions.”
 —Guillermina De Ferrari, University of Wisconsin–Madison