My faculty mentor, Professor Banks, and I had the opportunity to start discussing my research interests for this semester in his office hours on August 30th from around 2:30 to 3:00pm. I first had the chance to talk about my topical interest in enemy combatants and prisoners of war which helped me gather my thoughts at this stage of the research process in which my idea of what I want to pursue is fluid and somewhat vague. My broad interest boils down my fascination in how the United States maganges to imprison and torture foreign nationals without any apparent repercussions. After listening to me talk about my ideas, Dr. Banks identified the two potential directions I could steer my research in (as mentioned in my first research post). He suggested I either focus on the language used to describe the prisoners that may be allowing for legal loopholes, or pursue my interest in the specific cases of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay and compare how the two have/had radically different responses in the American Public. I currently am inclined to pursue the latter.
As I move forward with my research, Professor Banks said it would be best for me to focus on first hand journalistic accounts and primary sources on the topic in order to be sure that the puzzle I want to pursue exists and that there is substantial relevant information to synthesize. He suggested doing this before delving into the scholarly conversation so that I can have a sense of my own opinions before being influenced by the discourse. A concern I have regarding the primary source material is that too much of it may be classified by the government and not accessible for my research. I have seen documents that have been declassified, but most of them are at least a few years old and may not be representative of current practices. However, considering that the case of Abu Ghraib is essentially in the past entirely, I wonder how I will be able to build a comparable profile for Guantanamo Bay, which remains operational.