I've just sent out the invite for the Chamorro gathering to take place next April. I'm posting the final draft here, and please if you are interested in participating or supporting, please let me know.

FAMOKSAIYAN: Decolonizing Chamorro Histories, Identities and Futures
April 14-15, 2006

Ginnen i Manaina-ta siha. Ginnen i Mangguelo-ta siha. Hita I Chamoru, I taotao Guahan yan Luta yan Saipan yan Tinian. Hita i taotao tano yan i tasi. Mungga en fanmaleffa I Manma’pos yan Fanmanhasso todu tiempo put I Manmamaila.

Ginnen Manu Hit? Hayi hit pa’go? Para Manu Hit? These are questions of our past, present and future which we can never ever let go. As simple as these questions may appear, finding indigenous answers to them is harder than one would think. While questions of cultural preservation (What to keep?) and adaptation (What to change?) are vital to our survival, they must always be asked in relation to less visible and potentially more difficult problems which nonetheless greatly impact our lives. Banal colonialism, familiar and frighteningly familial militarism and enthusiastic patriotism are just a few of the dire and generally undiscussed issues Chamorros around the world are confronted with today, which offer us particularly unhelpful answers as to the questions of where we came from, who are we, and where are we going?

An invisible minority in the United States, their island of Guam one of the world’s last “official” colonies and recently christened the tip of America’s military spear in Asia, with the arrival of 7,000 new Marines, the future of Chamorros and their islands seems inevitably entangled with that of the United States and its strategic military interests. Is this the fate of Chamorros and the Marianas, to be forever linked to the United States in this way, and do little other than follow and attempt to live up to as well as within its mandates, its examples and its dreams? In seeking to improve their lives and communities, is the only hope for Chamorros to follow the advice of the Bush Administration and “let go” of their cultures that hold them back and at last seize the American dream?

How can Chamorros chart a future for themselves that escapes this mentality and therefore doesn’t automatically assume that “what is good for America must be good for Guam?” What role does the possible re-unification of the Marianas islands play in making a different future possible? How does the realities of Chamorro diaspora, where more Chamorros are in the United States than in the Marianas force us to develop different strategies to include and connect to those thousands of miles away? How can Chamorros resist or critique the incessant and overwhelming demands of the United States military, when our lives, whether through relatives in Iraq, frequent editorials on our unavoidable military dependencies, and images of America as our saviors from World War II, make those demands seem so intimate and necessary? What are the educational issues facing Chamorros both in the islands and elsewhere? What are the vital political and not just cultural roles that community organizations, artists and dance groups must play in our movements? Lastly, what can our hopes be for decolonization, whether as a political process or a displacement of ideology or meaning, when for the majority of Chamorros, such a prospect remains a terrifying (im)possibility?

To this end, the Chamorro Information Activists are inviting all interested in critical discussions around the future of Chamorros and their islands to participate in Famoksaiyan, a Chamorro gathering to take place at the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club in San Diego, April 14 and 15, 2006.

Famoksaiyan translates to either “the place or time of nurturing” or “the time to paddle forward or move ahead.” It is in this spirit that we hope to provide a space where vital conversations can take place, and possible solutions to the above mentioned issues be strategized.

We welcome those interested in taking part in these discussions to submit individual or panel presentation proposals on any topic which relates critically to Chamorros in the Marianas and the rest of the world. As this is our first attempt at a gathering such as this, we are interested in getting as diverse a group as possible together. We stress that this is not solely an academic conference, rather a community conference including our manamko’, community activists, student leaders, and other interested people. Therefore people who consider themselves outside of academia are welcomed to submit presentations as well.

Your submission should include a one page proposal of either your paper or description of the panel you are organizing, as well as brief biography and your contact info (mailing address, telephone and email). Topics may include (but are not limited to): 1) Culture as Resistance (Chamorro art, literature, dance). 2) Militarization of life/land/desire. 3) Environmental racism (Nuclear fallout, toxic waste dumping). 4) Ensuring Educational Access (Recruitment, retention, reform). 5) Diaspora. 6) Social Movements and Political Activism (Self Determination, land rights, political reform). 7) Chamorros and Cross Racial Coalitions. 8) Mental and Physical Health Issues (Diabetes, Cancer, Ice, Suicide). 9) Language and Cultural Revitalization. 10) Historical Interventions. (Spanish era, Pre-War, World War II, Post-War). 11) Reparations? (From whom? In what form?). 12) Decolonization and the Indigenous Critique.

The deadline for submissions is January 25, 2006. We will continue to accept presentations submitted after this date, but those received before it will be given priority.Please email your submissions and any questions to Michael Lujan Bevacqua at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com.

Si Yu’us Ma’ase! Biba Chamoru! Na’la’la’ Mo’na I Taotao I Islas Marianas!


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