The Detainee's Two Bodies: Intellectual Property and Fugitivity at Guantánamo Bay

Kalyan Nadiminti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article argues that the denial of detainee intellectual property rights at Guantánamo Bay calls attention to new modalities of fugitivity and postcolonial citizenship. Examining paintings created by current and former detainees as well as Mohamedou Ould Slahi's redacted memoir Guantánamo Diary (2015/2017), the article poses two key questions: How do we understand the status of post-9/11 art made in captivity? And what is the significance of the claim of US state ownership over such art? Following Stephen Best's argument that US intellectual property laws were heavily influenced by Fugitive Slave Laws, the article theorizes "detainee copyright" to spotlight the political significance of detainees' artistic and cultural work against the state's fear of fugitive meaning. The triangulation of intellectual property, art and life-writing, and state censorship produces the detainee's two bodies: the material body shackled in indefinite detention and the metaphorical body demanding public circulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-366
Number of pages24
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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