Chamorro conference update!

I've finally finalized the dates for the conference, April 14 and 15, 2006 at the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club in San Diego. Matto di mampos exciting este!

I'm posting the latest draft of our call for papers/invite for the conference below, I'll be sending it out early next week so if you want to give me some feedback on it, please post it here or email it to me.

Otro fino'-ta, the decision to name the conference Famoksaiyan is explained in the text below.

Call for Papers
FAMOKSAIYAN: Chamorro History, Identity and Decolonization
April 14-15, 2006

Ginnen i Manaina-ta. Ginnen i Manguelo-ta. Hita I taotao Guahan yan Luta yan Saipan yan Tinian. Hita i taotao tano yan i tasi. Mungga maleffa 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 issues Chamorros around the world are confronted with today. 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 interests.seems inevitably entangled with that of the United States and its strategic 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? 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?

Commonsense in Marianas, but in particular Guam dictates that the answers to all problems lie in imagining, desiring and moving East towards the United States and changing Guam based on what America “represents.” The government can be fixed by calling in “The Feds.” Utilities can be fixed by privatizing them. Health care, politics and education can be fixed by whitening its professionals, replacing locals with non-locals. All of these solutions trap Chamorros in a vicious cycle of paternalistic dependency which prevents any and all fundamental change from taking place, thus protecting the American character of certain institutions (such as government, education, economics) and forcing any discussions of how to improve our lives to fixate and obsession with local or Chamorro elements (such as Chamorro politicians). But as obvious imperialist impulses in Iraq and Afghanistan and the systemic racism and corruption around Hurricane Katrina indicate, our benevolent father figure Uncle Sam is far from benevolent and far from the best answer to our problems.

How can Chamorros chart a future for themselves which 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? What is the role of community organizations and dance groups within the larger movement? 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 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) Decolonization and the Indigenous Critique.

The deadline for submissions is January 17, 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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