“The Use of Power and Ideology in Guantánamo”: New Academic Paper Focuses On My Book “The Guantánamo Files”

18.5.20

The cover of Andy Worthington’s 2007 book “The Guantánamo Files.”

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Imagine my surprise last week when a post popped up on Facebook, which I was tagged in, that read, “The Use of Power and Ideology in Guantánamo: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Andy Worthington’s The Guantánamo Files.”

Clicking through, I found that it was an entire academic article focusing on my 2007 book The Guantánamo Files, published in the latest issue (June 2020) of the European Journal of English Language and Literature Studies, a publication by EA Journals (European-American Journals), part of the UK-based European Centre for Research Training and Development, which is “an independent organisation run by scholars mainly in the UK, USA, and Canada.”

Written and supported by students and supervisors at GC University, in Faisalabad, Pakistan, the abstract explains that “[t]he research deals with the use of power and ideology in Andy Worthington’s The Guantánamo Files (2007) as the narratives (generally called Gitmo narratives) of the detainees show the betrayal of American ideals, [the] US constitution and international laws about human rights. Since its inception, Guantánamo Bay Camp is an icon of American military power, hegemony and legal exceptionalism in the ‘Global War on Terror.’”

As the article proceeds to explain, “There are a number of stories available about what happened to the inhabitants of the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camps in the form of books, articles, news and online stuff. These narratives are told and retold by many authors with multi perspective approach, but Andy Worthington’s The Guantánamo Files is one of the most prominent works of Gitmo narratives covering all issues of the topic. The goal of this work is to highlight the dark and unknown secrets of the detainees’ lives inside Gitmo and to know what is happened to the detainees in Guantánamo and why they are inside this limbo.”

The article also states, “For the first four years only the top American officials knew the exact number and names of the detainees. It was almost impossible to recount the stories of these male Muslims as they were detained without any charge or trial and they had no contact with their families. They were unable to make any contact even to their lawyers in the beginning and they were simply the apparatus of a lawless experiment conducted in the Torture Lab of America in the remote area of Cuba outside the jurisdiction of American law.”

Furthermore, the article adds, “Guantánamo, in terms of Foucault [“Discipline and Punish” (1979)], saw a new theory of law and crime. It was a new moral or political justification of the right to punish. Old laws were eliminated and old customs died out in Guantánamo. The working of military tribunals was also illegal and deeply flawed. The prisoners were not allowed to have any legal representation, and were stopped from seeing the classified evidence against them. The evidence often consisted of allegations based on unconfirmed reports or torture.”

The main body of the article subjects the stories of Abu Zubaydah, Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Mohammed Al-Qahtani, as discussed in my book, to “critical discourse analysis,” concluding, through examining these three stories of particularly abused individuals, that Guantánamo stands as “a symbol of civilizational breakdown through self-serving and pre-planned power abuse.”

My thanks to Ph.D. scholar Ahmad Saeed Iqbal, Assistant Professor Dr. Muhammad Asif and Visiting Lecturer Muhammad Asif Asghar for this article. It’s reassuring that  this work I undertook so many years ago continues to have resonance around the world.

To buy The Guantánamo Files as an e-book or paperback, please see the Pluto Press page here.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here, or here for the US, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.55), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from seven years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the resistance continues.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to and discussing an academic article about my 2007 book “The Guantanamo Files,” which has just been published in the European Journal of English Language and Literature Studies.

    The article’s entitled, “The Use of Power and Ideology in Guantanamo: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Andy Worthington’s The Guantanamo Files,” and I’m delighted that, 13 years since my book was published, it’s still being read and discussed and analyzed.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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