Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Sacrifice of Army Specialist Christopher Rivera Wesley

Just wanted to share with everyone the abstract for a paper I plan to write for a conference next year. Gof malago yu' kumula i estao i militat gi i ketturan Chamorro yan gi i hinasson Chamorro. Sa' hafa bula na Chamorro sigi ha' manaonao gi i setbisu? Ti sina put i kemissary ha', sa' atan siha, sesso manggofpatriotic lokkue, yan ma gof guaiya Amerika. Sa' hafa? Ti unu ineppe (repuesta), lao hu diseseha na maolek ha' yan nahong ha' an sigi ha' ta famaisen.

"The Sacrifice of Army Specialist Christopher Rivera Wesley"
Chamorros on Guam as Homo Sacer Soldiers."

On December 8, 2003, Christopher Rivera Wesley a Chamorro from Guam was killed in Iraq. Four months later another Chamorro, Michael Aguon Vega also died. Despite the unequal status of Guam in relation to the United States, media reports and local discourse surrounding both deaths made little to no mention of Guam’s colonial status. When family members in Guam commented on the soldier’s deaths, no one expressed anger over their not being able to vote for the President of the United States. No one said with regret that they wished they had a voting representative in the United States Congress. Instead, media representations and local discourse hovered around issues of justified sacrifice, honorable duty and service to country. Rather than being situated in the century’s long history of colonial abuse, exploitation and control in Guam, these deaths were instead celebrated as payments for debts Chamorros owe the United States for their freedom and liberty.

This paper uses the discourse created from the death of Wesley in order to analyze the Chamorro position as homo sacer or chattaotao, a national individual that lives in a process of inclusive exclusion, recognized as citizen, but not worthy of all the subsequent rights. Additionally, how do Chamorros on Guam use the military in order to bypass this marginalized position, and how is their status as homo sacer utilized to add an important dimension to the narratives that nations such as the United States use to justify the greatness and vitality of the nation-state?

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