Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species
Refugee Medicine, HIV, and a “Humanitarian Camp” at Guantánamo
This chapter argues that behind the growing emphases on biological surveillance and biopreparedness lies the continuing blunt force of incarceration and quarantine. Reviewing the testimony of Haitian refugees imprisoned by the U.S. Coast Guard in the world’s first AIDS concentration camp at Guantánamo Bay in the 1990s, the chapter outlines how emergency quarantine measures initiated a war between the state and refugees over the form and functionality of the HIV-positive Haitian immune system. Haitian refugees—who repeatedly described military brutality and contact with feral animals as dehumanizing forms of violence—initiated a hunger strike that publicly revealed the state’s lie that it administered a humanitarian camp for the refugees. In response, U.S. courts developed a legal standard for compromised immunity that brought about the end of the carceral experiment. This history sheds light on more-recent struggles over force-feeding at Guantánamo, where the body itself becomes the primary theater of warfare.