Public Thinker: Interview with Dylan Rodridguez

Public Books

January 10, 2020

"Dr. Paik’s book facilitates a contextualized rethinking of the theoretical and historical technologies of racism. Her work points to the possibility that detention camps and other carceral sites of “rightlessness” may form primary institutional links between the nationalist logic of US global dominance and a larger racial social determination, in which the meanings of “race” are created, re-formed, fabricated, invented at the sites of capture."



The Conversation

August 13 2018

This article links the rising calls to #AbolishICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to the longstanding, broader movements to abolish police and prisons. It highlights the work of grassroots organizers, like those working with Mijente and Organized Communities Against Deportation, who connect the criminalization of noncitizens to the criminalization of working class people and communities of color. It argues that #AbolishICE is no mere campaign slogan, but one part of a vision to build a new social order committed to the liberation of all.

Spanish Translation:

"Los activistas que luchan por abolir el ICE plantean una visión más amplia"



The Conversation

June 28, 2018

This short article responds to the 45th U.S. president's executive order authorizing the indefinite detention of asylum seeker and migrant families who cross the border without inspection (“Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation,” June 20, 2018). It recalls the U.S. history of indefinitely detaining Haitian refugees of all ages, including families, at Guantánamo.

"The story of Guantanamo shows that, once the U.S. establishes the infrastructure of prison camps for families, it can persist as prison camps for anyone. People who endured indefinite detention have described it as a form of torture – one that the U.S. now proposes to inflict on thousands of migrant families."


Interview with Latinx Talk on Rightlessness

April 24, 2018


The mass incarceration of Japanese Americans offers a lesson for Muslims and allies

The Chicago Reporter

June 25, 2017

Opinion-Editorial aligned with the panel “Rightlessness: From Japanese Incarceration to the Muslim Ban” at 11:30 a.m. on July 8, 2017, at Alphawood Gallery in Chicago. The panel is part of their new exhibition, Then They Came For Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties, which debuts June 29, 2017.


Interview on Rightlessness

Interview with Seth Farber, an attorney who assists with Guantánamo cases, recorded on July 15, 2016 by telephone.

A. Naomi Paik is Assistant Professor of Asian American studies at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. Professor Paik holds a B.A. from Columbia, and an M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University, She is the author of “Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in US Prison Camps since World War II.” On July 15, 2016, I had the privilege of interviewing Professor Paik by telephone. What follows are my interview notes, as corrected by Naomi Paik.


Magazine Article


The Funambulist Magazine, 04 (March-April 2016): 34-40.

Although the U.S. army’s camp of Guantánamo Bay is not the only site of extrajudicial incarceration in the context of the so-called “war on terror,” it certainly materializes the paradigm of such a dubious carceral program. In this text, A. Naomi Paik examines the judicial and spatial characteristics of the camp in relation to its past role in the detention of HIV positive Haitian refugees.


Manufacturing Rightlessness: The Camp as a Legal Fiction

Conversation recorded with Léopold Lambert in Chicago on July 27, 2014

This conversation with Naomi Paik exposes the arguments she develops in her forthcoming book currently entitled Rightlessness (2015). In it, she uses three historical examples of camps administrated by the United States in their efforts of manufacturing rightlessness for bodies it wants to exclude from traditional judicial channels. We begin the conversation by talking of the logic behind the late 1980s discussion about symbolical and financial reparations to Japanese American citizens who had been incarcerated in the infamous camps from 1942 to 1945. Naomi then describes the legal and physical existence of a camp in Guantánamo holding HIV positive refugees having fled the Haiti 1991 coup d’état and being refused asylum in the United States. Finally, the third historical example is the current function of Camp Delta in Guantanamo, where the legal fictitious status of “enemy combatant” — we discuss of the very signification of this label — provided a simulacrum of legitimacy to indefinitely incarcerate dozens of kidnapped people suspected of belonging to terrorist group without due trial.