In this bold book, A. Naomi Paik grapples with the history of U.S.
prison camps that have confined people outside the boundaries of
legal and civil rights. Removed from the social and political
communities that would guarantee fundamental legal protections,
these detainees are effectively rightless, stripped of the right
even to have rights. Rightless people thus expose an essential
paradox: while the United States purports to champion inalienable
rights at home and internationally, it has built its global power
in part by creating a regime of imprisonment that places certain
populations perceived as threats beyond rights. The United States'
status as the guardian of rights coincides with, indeed depends on,
its creation of rightlessness.
Yet rightless people are not silent. Drawing from an expansive
testimonial archive of legal proceedings, truth commission records,
poetry, and experimental video, Paik shows how rightless people use
their imprisonment to protest U.S. state violence. She examines
demands for redress by Japanese Americans interned during World War
II, testimonies of HIV-positive Haitian refugees detained at
Guantanamo in the early 1990s, and appeals by Guantanamo's enemy
combatants from the War on Terror. In doing so, she reveals a
powerful ongoing contest over the nature and meaning of the law,
over civil liberties and global human rights, and over the power of
the state in people's lives.