Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mangal Pandey and Ami Suzuki

You might have noticed a slight change in my blog. For several months I've sported i banderan Guahan as my profile pick, due to the obvious nationalistic and ethnocentric character of my blog. It was also an important strategic choice, since when I started the Decolonize Guam blog, I wanted people who stumbled across it to still connect and feel familiar to it, even if the news posted on the blog might be completely new and strange to them (since the posts on the blog portray the US in a hardly benevolent light).

When I started that blog though my profile pick was an interesting and confusing choice to many, this still from the film Mangal Pandey: The Rising, starring Amir Khan as one of the heroes of the First Indian Rebellion in 1857. Surely only those familiar with my random Nihi ta fanchat gi fino' Chamoru put Hindi Movies would have understood the choice.

The choice was not only related to my love for Hindi movies, but also part of a much deeper affinity for revolutions and the ability for some Hindi films to celebrate them. Coming from Guam, a colony which is very much in denial of its colonial status, and is determined to protect whatever shred of the colonizer (inamerikanu) it can hold on to, films such as The Rising, Rang de Basanti, Water and yes even the viscerally culturally static Pardes, are like dreams come true for me.

After watching The Rising for example I wrote an ashcan comic book slightly based on it and sort of theoretical musings on how revolution happens. At some point I will set aside the time to scan it and then upload it onto my blog or the Pump Fake Nation site. But for the moment I'll just share with you the premise of the comic:

The agent of revolution, whether it be a single person, a small group or an entire people requires an element of myth, a flexible excess of meaning, which is precisely what allows the impossible to suddenly not just seem possible, but inevitable. What happens to this pre-revolutionary excess, if the revolution is successful, or worse yet, if it fails?

In the comic, we experience this excess of meaning through the figure of Mangal Pandey, who while waiting to be hung for treason by the British East India Company, is constantly pulled back into the moment of his alleged treason, which each time shifts focus and intensity. Although different versions exist of what exactly happened, no one contests the fact that while serving as a soldier or sepoy for the Company, Pandey attacked and wounded his white commanding officer. This assault, his execution, his fellow soldier's refusal to arrest him, as well as the general disrepect the Company had for Indian and Muslim customs all contributed to what has become known as the First War of Independence in India.

Each time Mangal Pandey returns to his attack on his commanding officer, the scene shifts, gradually becoming larger in scale, more soldiers killed, more carnage brought about by Pandey's rage, until at last the revisiting of his act spills into the streets where farmers strike down Company soldiers and officers with their shovels and hoes.

For me, thinking about wars for independence and struggles for decolonization elsewhere can be somewhat instructive for Guam, even though obviously the rules of the game have changed, and Guam has nowhere near the people or material power India had in both the late 19th and early 20th centuries. What I glean though is often the mechanics of how one relates to those choices, those acts. The ways a fidelity to those foundational acts can be reinvented and not lost in a temporal translation. The recent film Lage Raho Munna Bhai, is an excellent example of this. Although I don't want to go into it too indepth guini, since I plan on posting more about it later, I'll make a quick point.

The film is about Gandhigiri or "Gandhism" today, and is able to communicate different aspects of it in both a humorous and touching way. At one point in the film, the main character is asked by someone this: One day I saw a young child throwing a stone at a statue of Gandhi. I was so ashamed and embarassed, and wanted to scold and punish the child for his disrespect to one of India's greatest leaders. According to the wisdom of Gandhi, what should I have done?

The main character, who has beautiful delusions that Gandhi is aiding and advising him, answers simply, give the boy a larger stone. In fact tear down all the statues of me and all the photos of me everywhere in India.

Hunggan, a paradoxical point given the centrality of elevating Gandhian thought in the film, lao tahdong na punto sinembatgo.

The purpose of this winding path through Bollywood, was to introduce my new profile picture, which features the lovely Ami Suzuki (Suzuki Ami), a famous J-Pop singer whose rise to fame intersects interestingly with my own activist history.

Over the past couple of months I've slowly been collecting every single song I can download of hers, despite the fact that they are all in Japanese save for an occassionally English line like "I need your love, I need your love, All Night Long!" I even picked up a VHS which is a collection of all the music videos from her first album. Some of which are pretty cool by the way, although some are, as most music vidoes from any country go, disturbing. (Gof ya-hu i kanta "nothing without you," lao kalang racist yan ti komprendeyon i video.) So far I haven't been able to find any posters of hers for cheap, but if I ever did find on on ebay or anywhere else, you can bet I'd snatch it up.

Now at least one person has already attributed my liking for Ami Suzuki to a "thing for Asian girls." Which would tie neatly into my limited liking for anime and manga, and create a nice cat's cradle of orientalist affection.

(Otro fino'-ta, ti hu abobona famalao'an Chapones kinu i otro na rasa siha, lao yanggen guaha palao'an Chapones ni' podang, siempre mafoyung!)

To tell everyone the truth though, my affinity for Ami Suzuki goes far beyond her physical appearance (gi minagahet, gof masoksok gui', blech! kalakas!) and interestingly enough right to the center of my learning journey as a Chamorro and the way I experience Guam.

(Just a quick point here before continuing, since I feel the need to address the language I just used, "when I said learning journey as a Chamorro." To all those Chamorros who look down on other Chamorros who express problems of identity and feeling out of place in cultural and psychological terms, and dismiss their claims by virtue of the fact that "I have always known I was Chamorro" please recognize the fact that you use people who admit to having these questions, as the means through which you can basically displace your own identity problems and uncertainty. Being a Chamorro is a constant journey and struggle, to accept or reject a heterogenous heritage, plan for an uncertain and ambiguous future and constantly work to define your own place in the material and ideological limits of the present moment. If the Chamorro was not subject to these changes and questions, then everything would be completely different, and right now we would all be speaking Chamorro, and would absolutely not be patriotic to the United States, and the majority of us would be farmers and fishermen. But since all of these things are not true today and have changed, then it should be obvious that while a Chamorro has existed for millennia, the definitions and conditions for it constantly change and respond to a variety of pressures, reworking what it means to be Chamorro. Take for instance the way Chamorros are supposed to be in terms of "work." As I noted in my article Nihi ta fanagululumi: Inferiority and Activism Amongst Chamorros on Guam, a century ago Chamorros conceived of themselves as incredibly hardworking, as one Chamoritta song indicates, "Chamorro na taotao ya-na macho'cho'." But over the past century, in particular since World War II, this has shifted to the point where we more commonly associate ourselves with being lazy and not industrious. Gagu mas ki butmachachu. All Chamorros constantly question their identities, even if they never every speak of it and so we are all much better off, once we do break down the concepts of culture that require that the true Chamorro be unaffected or untained by such worries and problems.)

The reason I felt the need for that tangent, is because although I am some sort of hotshot indigenous Chamorro nationalist/activist today, at one point I had no idea what any of these things meant. I did not grow up speaking Chamorro, was not that close to my extended family, and knew Guam history only from the times when the power was out during typhoons and that would force us famagu'on to listen to grandma and grandpa tell us taotaomo'na stories.

When I returned to Guam after spending five years attending high school and college in the states, I was already a veteran of being uncomfortable not knowing anything about the place I was from. After not hearing Chamorro for years, I would often times find myself surrounded by it, its unintelligability to me increasing the way I felt the words' intensity, making them all the more troublesome and unwelcoming to me since I did could not understand, but felt I probably should.

I would constantly feel embarassed around relatives and friends who were obviously more Chamorro than I was, whether in terms of i kulot i lassas-ñiha, language ability, acoustic guitar playing capability, chaud ways of speaking. In the first year that I came back to Guam I was always troubled at my lack of knowledge, always uncertain what my relationship was supposed to be to this island, to a people that were mine.

At one point I remember sitting in the computer lab at UOG, during my first semester there, with the lyrics to Jose Marti's Guantanamera beside me, contemplating them and wondering where that passionate and profound connection to one's land was for me? I wrote my own version, lamenting how I was returning to an island which was supposed to be mine, and for whom I was supposed to have heart-swelling, paradisical memories of, but couldn't really find them. Unfortunately I've lost the lyrics I came up with, and sadly I'm one of those people who writes things down precisely to forget them.

Since that time I have obviously changed quite a bit, and become a "radical" Chamorro activist, although I'd be careful here not to attribute this change in me to a simple "getting in touch with my roots."

One thing that truly pisses me off about the ways we Chamorros and so many others conceive of culture, is that rather than being a process of transmitting knowledge which we participate in and help shape, we are just supposed to be passive vessels for the "preservation" of knowledge and history, and not supposed to play any role in actually owning and embodying said culture. The one disgusting exception is when there is some sort of colonial contact or intervention and we become cultural agents because of the way we have to "let go" of some things in order to emmulate that culture, while keeping the things which won't "hold us back."

The moment that that my relationship to Guam shifted and changed, was not when I accepted the staticness of the past, and dug deep beneath the latte at Ritidian and discovered the root I had sought for so long! Instead, everything changed when I realized that rather then being a mere cheerleader or benchwarmer in cultural/historical transmission, learning, description, embodiment, I was supposed to be an active agent, and seize not with the cautious, pretension of someone craddling a fragile artifact, but rather the intense, fiery, passionate commitment to something which is never complete except with my intervention. Something which I myself help shape and have a commitment to perpetuate and help form.

One can never truly love something which they perceive as being seperate from themselves and existing in a world unto itself. In love there is always a dimension of ownership, or as I've said before, an element of possession. And so once I realized that a positive and meaningful relationship to Guam or to the concept of Chamorro depended upon me, not just seeing it, recognizing it, or finding ways to buy it and consume it, but instead feeling responsible to it, then the rest as they say was history.

A crucial, but kind of strange spot in this passage for me was Ami Suzuki's song and video love the island. When I first arrived back on Guam in 1998, this song which was Ami Suzuki's first released single was also just arriving on Guam. The Japanese Government, Sony Music Japan and the Guam Visitor's Bureau, all negotiated an arrangement to use Ami's first single love the island as part of a summer ad campaign for Guam in 1998. In addition to the live concert on island that the singer gave that year, the music video for her single was shot on Guam, most notably at the Guam International Airport, the Megaplex in Tamuning and Tumon Bay. It was shown for a while almost every half hour or hour on the Visitor's Channel, which was #28 I think.

Not speaking Japanese the only part I understood was of course the line which starts several of the verses, love the island. guaiya i isla.

In a weird and necessarily makeshift way, I connected my own arrival on Guam (and my feelings of being lost in translation and transition) with the visual images from the video most notably Ami Suzuki wandering around Guam's airport. As I found myself constantly questioning what "my island" meant and what its relationship to me was supposed to be, this song was constantly in the background, unintentionally (since it is a simple J-pop song) instructing me on what I was supposed to do.

And after a little while, guaiya i isla became a much more determined and committed guaiya i islå-mu. Which I later placed in the poem I Am Chamorro that runs along the side of this blog.

This affinity I have for Ami Suzuki, has a sort of historical dimension to it, because not only does it mark a turning point in my life, but also represents an object which helped to shift my focus and change my direction in life.

Pues put i inagradesi-hu nu este na kakanta, bai hu na'setbe i litratu-ña para i matan i blog-hu, pues bai hu na'chetton magi, i palabras i kantå-ña "love the island" gi fino' Chapones yan fino' Ingles. Sen magåhet na si yu'us ma'ase.

Love the Island
Este na link gumuhayi i palabras

love the island
sugite yuku chiisai mainichi ga
kimagure to zutto asonde itara
konna ni toki ga sugite ita

love the island wasurenai
hajimete yozora no shita de dakiatte itai
yatto wakatta
anata wo omoidashisugite iru

yukkuri to shizuka ni
kizukarezu wasuretai

kirei ni yakete yuku hada to
kawaiteru kokoro wo
nagusamete kureru no wa
machinami no irumineeshon

mata kondo tte jirasarete
namida mo nagashita ka mo ne
nan datte oshiete kureta
ano natsu wo wasurerarenai

love the island
shinkokyuu shite iru suwarikonde
ai wa kekkyoku deattemo
fuan de nanimo raku ni narenai

hontou wa anata no me no mae de omoikitte
naite mitari waratte mitari
okotte mitari sasete hoshikatta

azayakana ichinichi mo
anata e no omoi wa tsunoru

umi wa sanjikan chotto
hikouki de tobikoeta
kuukou de hakikaeta
sandaru ga chotto tereteru

mata denaoshi dakara
ikura demo dou ni naru demo naru
tabi dachi no kisetsu ka na?
sukoshi dake yume wo misasete

love the island sugite yuku
chiisai mainichi ga
kimagure to zutto asonde itara
konna ni toki ga sugite ita

love the island wasurenai
hajimete yozora no shita de dakiatte itai
yatto wakatta
anata wo omoidashisugite iru

yukkuri to shizuka ni
kizukarezu wasuretai

Love the Island
(translation by TK & Marc, sukne siha an lachi)

Love the island
As these small days pass by
Playing with you capriciously for so long
That's how I've silently passed my time

Love the island
I won't forget the first time, beneath the night sky
That I realized that I wanted to hold you
I'm remembering you too much

Slowly and silently
Without realizing it, I want to forget you

My skin that's tanned nicely
And my thirsting heart
The thing that will comfort them
Is the illumination of the city streets

You teased me by saying "I'll see you again"
I might have been crying, too
The things that you've taught me
I can't forget that summer

Love the island
Sitting down and taking a deep breath
Even if I meet someone else and love, after all
Because of my unease, I can't be happy

The truth is with all my heart
When I was in front of you
I wanted you to let me see you upset
Or crying, or smiling

Even on a peaceful day
My love for you will grow

For about three hours
We flew over the ocean
The sandles I changed at the airport
I'm a bit ashamed of them

Because we can start again
No matter how many times we try, or how things turn out
Is it the time to start our journey?
Just let me see a bit of your dream

Love the island
As these small days pass by
Playing with you capriciously for so long
That's how I've silently passed my time

Love the island
I won't forget the first time, beneath the night sky
That I realized that I wanted to hold you
I'm remembering you too much

Slowly and silently
Without realizing it, I want to forget you

Saturday, October 28, 2006

What does Voicing Indigeneity have to do with Decolonizing Guam?

I've been busy lately, in so many different ways, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospec of just trying to write about all of it.

So instead of doing so, then I just thought I'd let everyone know about the two other blogs that I help run.

The Decolonize Guam blog was created several months ago to support the Peace and Justice for Guam Petition.

The desire behind the Peace and Justice for Guam Petition is simple. Right now the United States is militarizing Guam at an incredible rate, and few people on Guam seem concerned about it.

There are 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents on their way from Okinawa. They will most definitely be joined by some of the troops being downsized from South Korea. They will be supporting the American remilitarization of the Philippines. There are then the war games, the first of which, Valiant Shield, took place this June, which was described by one news report as a "massive armada." These games will be now be done regularly in the region, every two years. In the midst of this the military was doing live explosive training in Tamuning over the summer and it looks like the military might retake some of the lands that they have recently returned to the families they took them from in the first place.

In the background to all of this, we have nasty chemicals buried by the United States military, a recent report that Agent Orange was indeed stored on Guam, and skyrocketing cancer rates and the recent revelation that of the entire population of Guam only 5.3% of it is over the age of 65! We also see nuclear posturing between North Korea and the United States which threatens to wipe Guam from the face of the earth.

In this typhoon of militarization, disease and looming death, the purpose of this petition is simple, a call for peace and negotiation, rather than aggression and actions in order to assert dominance and control. Guam has been a victim of American aggression and designs for more than a century, first a Naval colony prior to World War II, the only American real estate occupied by the Japanese during World War II, a backwater colony economically underdeveloped and patronized in order to control its destiny, and now it waits in the cross hairs of nuclear war.

The United States had made the existence of Guam war. We can see this, whether as a base for bombing Japan, Korea and Vietnam, a possible site for incarcerating "terrorists" after 9/11, a site where the dreams of Marine recruiters come true, and a place where in contrast to places like Iraq, South Korea and Okinawa, the United States is welcomed as a liberator!

One thing that I am absolutely committed to doing is changing Guam's existence and as well as this relationship so that our futures and our very identities are not so closely linked with the way America wages war, and the securing of its military interests. If we listen carefully to the things that we say Chamorro culture is, as well as the lessons of war that our elders learned more than 60 years ago (which are sadly drowned out too often by meaningless American patriotism), then we should realize that another future is not just desirable, but necessary. The route which America unfortunately seems set upon, will lead no doubt lead to the apocalypse that Bush and many other Christians are pining for. As I often say with a saddened sarcasm, we need to work to help change the course of this world (and the US in particular), before our island is vaporized in a nuclear war or swallowed up by the ocean because of global warming.

The Decolonize Guam blog exists to provide information on the different forms of military impact that are taking place in Guam and the Pacific right now, so that we can be informed of the ways we are being used and the ways justice continues to be denied to Chamorros and others on Guam.

The second blog is Voicing Indigeneity and is a joint work in progress effort between myself and Angela Morrill (Modoc-Klamath) and Madelsar Tmetuchl Ngiraingas from Belau/Palau, all of us currently graduate students in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

In response to the general lack of any recognition of indigenous communities, histories, struggles and epistemologies in contemporary Ethnic Studies, the three of us are working our daggans off this year to make some sort of productive intervention into making a place for Native and indigenous scholars in this sort of discipline.

At the beginning of this year, our department made a good shift in terms of the coordinates of its theoretical enterprise, by making space for indigenous epsitemologies and post colonial critiques in their vision statement. Me, Madel and Angie are very much interested in exploiting that incipient space and order to make Ethnic Studies relevant to the millions of people throughout the world who lie beneath the nation, between nations and therefore find themselves trapped by both i manapa'ka yan i manggaikulot siha in disgustingly placcid legal mazes such as The Insular Cases, for the off-shore territories of the US or what two scholars refer to as The Road for Native Americans, these fictional, convoluted domains merely a reinvention of the concept of a historical waiting room, where those considered to be outside of History waiting, eternally for a number which will never be called.

As I've often lamented on this blog, those who do clearly fall within an Ethnic Studies framework, sometimes referred to as the Ethnic food groups, either have difficulty even comprehending decolonization or treat it with the empty innocence of a "revolution which will not be televised." For them, sovereignty is a completely alien equation as well.

In order to quickly illustrate this point I'm going to post the draft panel description that me, Madel and Angie are working on for the Indigenous Studies Conference next year at University of Oklahoma.

It is no secret to indigenous scholars in Ethnic Studies, that for the most part the category of “Ethnic” is not meant to include indigenous people. The development of Ethnic Studies has a radical history which while evoking an incredible array of critical demands, also relies upon a desire for a conservative inclusion. While political movements of both native peoples and minorities or people of color, share similar tones and often times antagonists, the crucial difference between these two communities, is the location of sovereignty within their political articulations. Save for a few remarkable exceptions, Ethnic Studies has largely been a demand for inclusion within the American nation and a chance to help “color” its national subject. The theoretical framework for indigenous peoples is not simply self-determination within the cultural realm alone, but rather sovereignty and self-determination within the political as well, demands which cannot be met with any simple inclusion.

The goal of this panel is twofold. First: To showcase the work of three indigenous graduate students from the United States and the Pacific who are currently knee deep in the Ethnic Studies Ph.D. program at University of California, San Diego. Second: To create a conversation over what, if any, the critical possibilities for native scholars who decided to chose an Ethnic Studies department or framework for their scholarly work.

My particular paper for this panel is as follows:

Given the ethnic/national limitations of the foundation of Ethnic Studies as a discipline, does this fact preclude doing work that constructively and productively articulate decolonization in terms of indigenous struggles? Absolutely not, however it does take some subtle manipulations, some necessary bending and breaking of some established concepts. My paper will discuss the work I have been able to do within Ethnic Studies, on decolonization from the perspective of Guam and its indigenous people the Chamorros, which to this day remains one of the world’s last “official” colonies. The largely anti-essentialist and occasionally anti-native framework that dominates Ethnic Studies and often meaninglessly/preemptively dismisses the work of indigenous scholars and activists, can nonetheless be useful in helping to rethink notions of where to locate sovereignty within a critical work as well as the prospects for decolonization.

This position does not obviously preclude anything, but only hopes to assert the need for a different analytical lens and framework for recognition and even just seeing indigenous people, beyond the "Ethnic food groups."

In order to do this in our little intellectual space here in San Diego, we have taken on a number of projects. I am working with our department chair Ross Frank on writing up and circulating a proposal for an Native American/Indigenous Studies faculty cluster hire for UCSD. At present there are no Native faculty whatsoever at UCSD and no one who does work from the prespective of indigenous peoples and so this cluster hire, by bringing together departments from across the campus into a commitment to hire a number of indigenous faculty at once in order to create as quickly as possible an intellectual community, looks like the best way of rectifying that absence. We just distributed our arguments this week and so far the response has been great.

Also, me and Angie are on the planning committee for our department's conference Crossing Borders this year, which it shares with the Ethnic Studies departments at USC and UC Berkeley. We are hoping to bring in keynote speakers who reflect indigenous studies and post colonial studies to help change the image of the department so that its not some black hole of indigenous scholars.

There are a few other things, but the main point of this post was to introduce the Voicing Indigeneity blog which is not so much a blog blog, but more so a home for the podcasts that me, Madel and Angie have made and will be making, which consist of our generative and random discussions on issues of Native studies, decolonization, indigenous epistemology and so on.

At present Angie has already uploaded a few podcasts for you to listen to. The conversations are very interesting, although I have to apologize ahead of time for how silly my laughing sounds like when I'm being audio recorded. I swear, I'll be Barry White, with my low voice booming about indigenous issues one second, the next I sound like I'm doing a My Little Pony commercial.

Here's the link again, head over there and check it out.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Hollywood Havoc Comes to Guam

A quick update on the Max Havoc GEDCA scandal. Apparently the producer of th Max Havoc move has now decided to sue the Government of Guam for $2 million!

There was a tremendous buzz around Guam several years ago when it was announced that Hollywood would be coming to Guam in the form of the film Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon.

A number of stars were announced to be attached to the movie who didn't appear in the film. For example, Qi Shu (from The Transporter and So Close) and rapper Fat Joe were supposed to be in Max Havoc, but were eventually replaced with David Carradine and Richard Roundtree. Semi-superstar Carmen Electra was the only "big" contemporary name to make it into the film cut of the film, albeit for only a few moments.

Of course, this film was mostly hype and not even hype of a digestable type. It was almost ridiculous hype when you think about the horrible director that Albert Pyun is and then the incredibly low budget and bland martial arts film they were proposing. For a film such as this to be both financially viable and to increase the positive visibility of Guam, it would need to feature more than just Carmen Electra, Joanna Krupa, Tawny Sablan and the Outrigger Hotel and also be of a martial arts caliber beyond Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior. Low budget films can capture huge audiences, but there must be something about them which is unique or some sort of hook which can snag the interest of people who know nothing about Guam.

The low budget formula that Max Havoc seemed to operate on, should have been incredibly suspect, from a number of points of view. For instance, Albert Pyun has made only two films which were incredibly cheap and incredibly profitable, first in 1982 with The Sword and the Sorcerer and then in 1989 with Cyborg starring Jean Claude Van Damme. Since then however, not a single one of his epic theatrical sojourns has reached that level. Furthermore as Max Havoc was not intended to be distributed in any form but limited DVD release, there was pretty much no way that a positive, international or nation buzz could emerge around this film, or significant financial success unless of course we started an internet rumor that there was a snuff film involving Paris Hilton after the credits.

Given the fact that any idiot could have done a simple Google search to see the poor film record of Albert Pyun and the fact that he may have even swindled other locales out of money for crappy movies, why was Hollywood welcomed into Guam so enthusiastically? While most people will quickly respond that it is because people on Guam are stupid or that the Government of Guam which ended up foolishly financing Max Havoc is just plain corrupt and incompetent, I'd like to start a more productive line of inquiry.

In order to understand why Guam would welcome such an obvious con game, we need to think about the way people on Guam tend to understand things that come from the United States.

Guam sits on "the edge of America" yet also on "the edge of Asia." Thousands of miles of ocean separate Guam from the United States mainland, and so the only reason that Guam is even allowed to try and refer to itself as "Where America's Day Begins" is because of the great strategic value it represents by being "America in Asia," or a perfect forward base from which the United States can control this end of the Pacific as well as project military power and pressure into the Asian continent.

Most people in Guam treat life there as some sort of daily Fear Factor. Everyday the intense and psychologically draining challenge is to endure the fact that what makes you American is your strategic military value to the United States for being situated on the edge of Asia, but by virtue of your distance to the US and the crass way that it uses you and limited way it needs you, you also constantly teeter on the edge of falling into some third world abyss. Life on Guam sucks for the most part, because we live in an ambiguous place between loathing over being a first world colony, yet suddenly loving it once we are confronted with the possibility of being a third world country.

I'm not sure as to who actually invoked the idea of "Hollywood" to describe the coming of the Max Havoc movie crew, but it was for the most part snatched up eagerly, often silently by most people on Guam, whether they admitted to it or not. For those who are frustrated by the insurmountable colonial difference between Guam and the United States, which no amount of American flags, food stamps or Chamorro deaths in American wars can seem to cover over, the film represented an opportunity to hopefully reach past the colonial/geographical distance between the United States and assert Guam as part of the United States based on the newly shared ownership of the concept of "Hollywood."

But this analysis need not be limited simply to the Max Havoc movie, you can find it all around the island, every day. For example, I wrote last year about what I call "the infamous white doctor" which follows the same dynamic of things which appear to originate from the United States being almost immediately valuable and important and necessary once they reach Guam. When I was living on Guam, it was so surreal to hear people complain incessantly about how they have to wait for a week or two watch shows, after they have aired in the states.

The argument that this is just plain inconvenient actually makes little to no sense (since all the episodes will still be shown), except from the prespective that when I am watching network and cable television, I am actually doing more than just merely watching television. The extra act that is taking place and that the complaint accidentally references is that in watching theese programs I am attempting to imagine myself alongside other Americans, and therefore the fact that I have to wait two weeks and am not in sync with their watching, messes with that imagination, brutally forcing me to imagine myself elsewhere than the United States. Forcing me to imagine myself on Guam, which because of the fact that it didn't live up to my first world fantasies, scares me even more because this failed act is just another think to fear falling into third world status over. (Such as the military people who called into radio stations days after Typhoon Pongsongna to complain that while the majority of the island did not have power or water, that they on base did not yet have cable).

At some point I will write a review of the Max Havoc movie, because I have watched it several times, and although it is very poorly made and very funny for all the wrong reasons, it is interesting nonetheless in the way it portrays Guam. If you can't wait for my review, the Pacific Daily News wrote one last year, which is not forgiving at all.

If you are like me and have been following closely the GEDCA loan debacle, you can read the exclusive article that was published in Minagahet last year, Hollywood Comes to Guam..Then Leaves! which was written by an actual member of the Max Havoc film crew.

I guess the only joke left to make is that the real scandal of this whole thing is that there is going to be another Max Havoc movie, this time Max Havoc: Ring of Fire.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Put Fin! Humuyong i Chamoru gi Fino' Underwood!

Tåya' hu chagi muna'atok i sinappote-ku nu Si Robert Underwood. Guiya i gayu-hu ya achokka' guaha nai linemlem yu' nu Guiya yan i matulaikå-na, ni’ ngai’an bai maleffa i impottante na bidå-ña siha nu i Chamoru siha.

Guaha Chamoru activists siha ni’ sumasångan na esta sen tahdong ti matulaikå-ña siha Si Underwood, pues todu I bididå-ña pa’go kalang ha traiduduti hit. Lao nu siha bai hu sångan este. Ga’o’-ku i gayu ni’ mumaleffa i guinife-ña siha kinu i gayu ni’ taya’ nai manguife.

Gi i minalalago-ña pa’go na sakkan, hunggan fihu nina’desganao as Guiya, sa’ fihu taigue i Chamoru gi i sinangan-ña yan pinagat-ña siha. Pat gaige i Chamoru gi hafa na mamamaila ha promemeti i taotao Guahan, lao chumecho gui’ yan i Filipino. Put hemplo, yanggen un atan i emails na hu na’chetton gi pappa’ este, todu i tiempo ma na’daña i sinangan fino’ Chamoru yan fino’ Tagalog.

Gi todu i mimilak Estoria, hunggan bai hu konfotme yan Si Underwood nai ilek-ña na “achaigua’ña kinu diferentes i Filipino yan i Chamoru.” Sa’ siña ta sangan na parehu i sinisedin i Chamoru yan i Filipino duranten i minagasin i Españot, Chapones, yan Amerikånu. Lao giya Guahan, gi pa’go na tiempo, ti bai hu aksepta na “parehu” este na dos na taotao siha. Unu ha’ gi entre este na dos, natibu. Este na fakto, ni’ pau chinemma’ i mandadañå-ta para maseha hafa na minimum pat struggle, lao yanggen pon kuentos put i “taotao Guahan” pat i “familian Guahan” fine’nina debi di un fa’sahnge na unu ha’ na taotao gi entre todu i pumalu siha mismo natibu. Gigon ma aksepta este yan marespetu este, pues siña maolek ha’ todu. Lao yanggen un puni este ya chagi ha’ fuma’multiculatural melting pot paradise Guahan, un na’la’la’la’ ta’lo i che’cho’ i colonizer, lao nuebu i fotma.

Magof hu na put fin Si Underwood kumukuentos gui’ put i Chamoru, lao siña hu komprende sa’ hafa sigi ha’ suhåyi este. I otro na gayu, siempre ha diseseha na yanggen ha kehayi i taotao siha na racist Si Underwood (ti ya-ña Filipinos) este pau nina’fañeha i Filipino mambobota.

Achokka’ bai hu gof suppote Si Underwood, ha na’triste yu’ didide’ lokkue. Esta kalang mumamaafnas hafa estaba gof ma’lak gi i bidå-ña, ya ayugue i hinengge-ña na i Chamoru i natibun Guahan. Hafa i hinegge ni’ tumatahgue este? I hinenggen multicultural, ni’ umassuma na manparehu yan manachaigua todu i rasa siha gi direcho.


News from the GUAM Team Campaign
October 24, 2006
Contact- 477-8206

Fact Check

Negative Campaigning Has No Place In Real Debate of Issues

Anigua–This evening, the Guam TEAM responds to an anti-Filipino commercial. The highly negative commercial makes unsubstantiated claims and outright lies. Congressman Robert Underwood and Senator Frank Aguon, Jr. believe strongly that negative campaigning serves no purpose in the current debate of ideas and issues critical to moving the island forward. It only serves to divide and create animosity between the people of Guam. This recent negative ad on behalf of the Camacho campaign only serves to strike fear and division amongst our island community. There is NO room for this in this or any campaign.

CLAIM : Robert Underwood says that Filipinos and Asians only come to Guam for money and don't care about our island community.

TRUTH : This is wrong. A complete reading of the text "A Chamorro Challenge to Statesiders" by Robert Underwood (June 24, 1977), from which the above statement is taken, would have found that the former Congressman was lamenting the challenge to Chamorros on Guam, as well as Filipinos and other Asians. Robert Underwood has a solid record on behalf of Filipino-Americans and is the only person from Guam to ever receive the Presidential Merit Award on behalf of his work for Filipinos.

CLAIM : He called Filipinos imported employees.

TRUTH : This is wrong and is a distortion. In the Pacific Daily News article, which the commercial bases its claims, Robert Underwood NEVER EVEN mentioned Filipinos.

CLAIM : Just last year, in 2005, Mr. Robert Underwood said, "Nowadays, we hope they just figure out there is no room for them here and move on or go to the nearest airport and take off. If not, they just have to get over it."

TRUTH: This statement was about a TV SHOW. This is a complete lie and fabrication. To link this to Filipinos is an affront to the Filipino-American community. The article never even mentioned Filipinos, nor was it about Filipinos! The article was written by Robert Underwood in "Pacific Magazine" (Survivor Fever: A Game Played From Time Immemorial – March 1, 2005) and was in reference to the popular TV show "Survivor" shot in 2005 in Vanuatu. (Link to the article: http://www.pacificmagazine.cc/issue/2005/03/01/survivor-fever)

Unfortunately it has come to this, knowing that an incumbent can\'t run on his record, his campaign tried to hide behind others and attack with lies

"I grew up embracing many cultures, with a grandfather from Dededo and a grandfather from North Carolina...my children who are my heart and soul share and embrace both their Chamorro and Mexican heritage. My family like almost all families on Guam is diverse and what makes our island so great. So for anyone to say I would tear down a people is simply wrong," commented Robert.

"I AM PROUD THAT THE PEOPLE OF GUAM AND THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES SHARE SO MUCH IN COMMON. WE ARE SO MUCH MORE ALIKE THAN WE ARE DIFFERENT, ANYONE WHO TRIES TO BELITTLE THE OTHER ONLY HURTS THEMSELVES," said Robert. "I am proud to run on my record, a record of uniting people not dividing them. My record is clear; during my ten years in Congress I reunited hundreds of Filipino families, worked for Filipino Veterans who fought so valiantly and contributed to the US Armed Forces, and worked on many issues important to all the people of Guam." Underwood stated, "Guam is a small community. At the end of this election, we will all still be living and working on this island. It is important to keep a level of fairness and decency in this election."

"The focus of this election should be on the issues that are important to our island, such as education, health care, public safety, revitalizing the economy, and good and open government. We need to return to the business of addressing these needs," Senator Aguon added.

Since the beginning of this campaign season, Team GUAM has been committed to the fair, open, and honest exchange of ideas that will benefit the people of Guam. It is only when we debate issues with real facts that we can begin to solve the multitudes of problems that plaque the people of Guam.

In this election, the Underwood/Aguon Team is committed to providing access to their platform and is committed to open dialogue with the voters. Good sportsmanship is a part of the Underwood/Aguon commitment of LEADERSHIP and bringing positive CHANGE to the island.

To learn more about the Underwood/Aguon campaign, and other events, please view our website at www.voteguam2006.com


News from the GUAM TEAM Campaign
October 17, 2006
Contact- 477-8206


Anigua—The Underwood/Aguon Team today unveiled two more "Change Initiatives." The Initiatives are a supplement to the GUAM Team's platform "A NEW DIRECTION FOR GUAM" which addresses specific steps and establishes new initiatives the administration will be taking to improve the economy, education, health care, good and open government, and the military build-up.

Today Congressman Robert Underwood and Senator Frank Aguon unveil two initiatives:

Office of Chamorro Justice and Governor's Initiative on Equity

Office of Chamorro Justice Issues

The Underwood/Aguon Team will create an Office of Chamorro Justice Issues. The functions of the Office will be to focus on unresolved issues between the federal government such as Chamorro self-determination, protecting the Land Trust and supporting cultural initiatives.

Issues of political, economic and cultural self-determination are of special importance to Chamorros. Although the last Congressional hearing on Guam's political status was in 1997, self-determination issues continue to be a part of Chamorros' basic concerns. While governed under United States federal law, Chamorros still cannot fully participate in that governing process.

The Office will also re-empower the Chamorro Land Trust Commission in its task of reclaiming Chamorro lands. The Office will task the Commission with implementing community development initiatives for these lands that will most benefit the Chamorro people. Chamorro lands must not go unused or underutilized when our Chamorro communities grow and are needing public and community spaces and facilities, including multi-use facilities. Most importantly, the Office will coordinate the government's efforts to provide affordable housing for our people.

The Underwood/Aguon Team will also support cultural initiatives. We will support Chamorro language and culture education, along with the development of a curriculum responsive to Guam's cultural diversity. With the military build-up, the anticipated demographic changes will create social change. We must nurture our relationship with the newer residents so that the social change will be positive and mutually beneficial. We cherish our values and our way of life, and we're proud of our Chamorro roots and the cultural diversity of our island. The Underwood/Aguon Team is just as proud and protective of our values as Guamanians. The Office will work to ensure that our values are sustained and maintained for future generations.

The Underwood/Aguon Team will ask government agencies, village leaders and community organizations to help bridge any gaps that may arise between the civilian and military communities. Together, we all grow socially and culturally, learning from and teaching one another. With a well balanced partnership and strong leadership, our values and our way of life will continue to inspire new generations.

Governor's Initiative on Equity

The Underwood/ Aguon Team is committed equal opportunity, access, and representation in the Government of Guam by the different ethnic communities of our richly diverse island members. Chamorros, Filipinos, Micronesians, Caucasians, Koreans, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and others have provided valuable resources and contributions to the economic, social and cultural fabric of our island community.

To improve equal opportunity, access, and representation in the Government Guam, the Underwood/Aguon Team will create an Executive Order to establish the Governor's Initiative on Equity. The Underwood/Aguon Team will appoint a Governor's Advisory Commission on Equity. The Commission will be composed of representatives from the diverse communities with a history of involvement and leadership from fields such as health, education, economic and community development, and business.

The Initiative will:

Develop, monitor and coordinate efforts to improve participation in government programs of underrepresented groups; and

Increase levels of participation in the economy, government and community development for those groups.

The Initiative Office will coordinate with department heads for implementation of the Executive Order.

Surival Amongst Rogues and Empires

Two tidbits of information which if I throw together might just get me a bit more hate mail than usual. The first is the statement by North Korean government justifying their recent nuclear tests and ambitions. The position of the North Korean government is clear, and its the difference between Iran/North Korea and Iraq. If we have nuclear weapons, then the risk of invasion goes down considerably, and despite all the talk about Iraq having Weapons of Mass Destruction, the reason it was invaded was because it most likely had no such thing and therefore represetned far less danger. North Korea, like so many other nations is investing in this for their survival. Although my island is currently within range of his missiles and was named recently as a target for their attacks if the United States continues its aggressive posturing, this is just a sliver of the dangerous picture geopolitical machinations and manipulations of the world's largest countries have created.

The second pasted piece is an recent article by Helen Calidicott about the nuclear danger that exists in the world today, not just from "rogue" nations like North Korea, but also "rogue" superpowers such as the United States and the former Soviet Union. Combined these two nations possess 96% of the roughly 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, and several thousand of these weapons are kept on "hair trigger" status for instantenous launch. For us on Guam, and elsewhere in the world, if we are truly interested in survival, both in terms of locally in Guam, but also regionally and globally, then we need to rethink our anger or fear over North Korea and its nuclear ambitions, to include the United States and Russia and their current nuclear arsenals!

This is a summarised version of a statement released by the foreign ministry of North Korea, also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, DPRK, announcing plans to test a nuclear weapon.

The US daily increasing threat of a nuclear war and its vicious sanctions and pressure have caused a grave situation on the Korean Peninsula in which the supreme interests and security of our State are seriously infringed upon and the Korean nation stands at the crossroads of life and death.

The US has become more frantic in its military exercises and arms build-up on the peninsula and in its vicinity for the purpose of launching the second Korean war since it made a de facto "declaration of war" against the DPRK through the recent brigandish adoption of a UN resolution.

At the same time it is making desperate efforts to internationalize the sanctions and blockade against the DPRK by leaving no dastardly means and methods untried in a foolish attempt to isolate and stifle it economically and bring down the socialist system chosen by its people themselves.

The present Bush administration has gone the lengths of making ultimatum that it would punish the DPRK if it refuses to yield to the US within the timetable set by it.

Under the present situation in which the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK have reached the worst phase, going beyond the extremity, the DPRK can no longer remain an on-looker to the developments.

The DPRK has already declared that it would take all necessary countermeasures to defend the sovereignty of the country and the dignity of the nation from the Bush administration's vicious hostile actions.

The DPRK Foreign Ministry is authorized to solemnly declare as follows in connection with the new measure to be taken to bolster the war deterrent for self-defence:

Firstly, the field of scientific research of the DPRK will in the future conduct a nuclear test under the condition where safety is firmly guaranteed.

The DPRK was compelled to pull out of the NPT as the present US administration scrapped the DPRK-US Agreed Framework and seriously threatened the DPRK's sovereignty and right to existence.

The DPRK officially announced that it manufactured up-to-date nuclear weapons after going through transparent legitimate processes to cope with the US escalated threat of a nuclear war and sanctions and pressure.

The already declared possession of nuclear weapons presupposes the nuclear test.

The US extreme threat of a nuclear war and sanctions and pressure compel the DPRK to conduct a nuclear test, an essential process for bolstering nuclear deterrent, as a corresponding measure for defence.

Secondly, the DPRK will never use nuclear weapons first but strictly prohibit any threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear transfer.

A people without reliable war deterrent are bound to meet a tragic death and the sovereignty of their country is bound to be wantonly infringed upon. This is a bitter lesson taught by the bloodshed resulting from the law of the jungle in different parts of the world.

The DPRK's nuclear weapons will serve as reliable war deterrent for protecting the supreme interests of the state and the security of the Korean nation from the US threat of aggression and averting a new war and firmly safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula under any circumstances.

The DPRK will always sincerely implement its international commitment in the field of nuclear non-proliferation as a responsible nuclear weapons state.

Thirdly, the DPRK will do its utmost to realize the denuclearization of the peninsula and give impetus to the world-wide nuclear disarmament and the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.

The ultimate goal of the DPRK is not a "denuclearization" to be followed by its unilateral disarmament but one aimed at settling the hostile relations between the DPRK and the US and removing the very source of all nuclear threats from the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity.

The Way the World Ends
With all the hype about North Korea, we're forgetting that the world is still staring down the barrels of thousands of U.S. and Russian ICBMs
October 21, 2006
The Ottawa Citizen
by Helen Caldicott

It is difficult to underestimate the problems associated with North Korea's recent nuclear weapons test. Following a small atomic explosion in a mountainous area of North Korea of less than one kiloton -- the Hiroshima bomb was 13 kilotons -- the U.S. administration is encouraging draconian economic sanctions to be enacted against a desperately poor country where millions of people are malnourished and that will further ostracize a paranoid regime, while the rest of the world looks on with horror as the nuclear arms race threatens to spiral out of control.

While lateral proliferation is indeed an incredibly serious problem as ever-more countries prepare to enter the portals of the nuclear club, one consistent outstanding nuclear threat that continues to endanger most planetary species is ignored by the international community.

In fact, the real "rogue" nations that continue to hold the world at nuclear ransom are Russia and the United States. Contrary to popular belief, the threat of a massive nuclear attack -- whether by accident, human fallibility or malfeasance -- has increased.

Of the 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, the United States and Russia possess 96 per cent of them. Of these, Russia aims most of its 8,200 strategic nuclear warheads at U.S. and Canadian targets, while the U.S. aims most of its 7,000 offensive strategic hydrogen bombs on Russian missile silos and command centres. Each of these thermonuclear warheads has roughly 20 times the destructive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, according to a report on nuclear weapons by the National Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environmental group.

Of these 7,000 U.S. strategic weapons, 2,500 are deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles that are constantly maintained on hair-trigger alert ready for immediate launching, while the U.S. also maintains some 2,688 hydrogen bombs on missiles in its 14 Trident submarines, most ready for instantaneous launching.

According to the Center for Defense Information, a group that analyzes U.S. defence policy, in the event of a suspected attack, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Air Command has only three minutes to decide if a nuclear attack warning is valid. He has 10 minutes to locate the president for a 30-second briefing on attack options, and the president then has three minutes to decide to launch the warheads and to consider which pre-set targeting plan to use.

Once launched, the missiles would take 10 to 30 minutes to reach their Russian targets.

An almost identical situation prevails in Russia, except unlike the combined U.S. and Canadian NORAD early-warning equipment, the Russian system is decaying rapidly, its early-warning satellites are almost non-functional and it now relies on a relatively primitive over-the-horizon radar to warn it of an imminent secret first-strike attack from the United States.

The Russian military and political leaders are suitably paranoid about this extraordinary post-Cold-War situation. So much so that in January 1995 president Boris Yeltsin came to within 10 seconds of launching his nuclear armada when the launch of a Norwegian weather satellite was misinterpreted in Moscow as a pre-emptive U.S. nuclear attack.

Most towns and cities with populations over 50,000 on the North American continent are targeted with at least one hydrogen bomb. Only 1,000 bombs exploding on 100 cities could induce nuclear winter and the end of most life on earth. There are fewer than 300 major cities in the Northern hemisphere.

Such is the redundancy of nuclear weapons. A U.S. Foreign Military Studies Office report of January 2002, "Prototypes for Targeting America, a Soviet Military Assessment," states that New York City, for example, is the single most important target in the Atlantic region after major military installations. A U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment report, commissioned in the 1980s but still relevant, estimated that Soviet nuclear war plans had two one-megaton bombs aimed at each of three airports that serve New York, one aimed at each of the major bridges, two at Wall Street and two at each of four oil refineries. The major rail centres and power stations were also targeted, along with the port facilities.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that New York City would be obliterated by nuclear blasts and the resulting firestorms and fallout.

Millions of people would die instantly. Survivors would perish shortly thereafter from burns and exposure to radiation.

Terrifyingly, the early warning systems of both Russia and the U.S. register false alarms daily, triggered either by wildfires, satellite launchings or solar reflections off clouds or oceans. Of more immediate concern in both the United States and Russia is the threat of terrorists or hackers entering and disrupting the computerized early warning systems and command centres.

Therefore, as the world tries to come to terms with a possible tiny new entrant into the nuclear club, the U.S. Security Council, the U.S. administration, the U.S. Congress, the Canadian government and the Kremlin fail to recognize the most serious danger -- thousands of hydrogen bombs maintained on tenuous hair-trigger alert.

What has induced this state of global psychic numbing, and why are these issues never officially addressed?

Now that Russia and the U.S. maintain a friendly working relationship, it is time to reinvigorate the extraordinary precedent established by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavic in 1988, to urgently agree to abolish nuclear weapons bilaterally.

Only then will the nuclear superpowers have the moral authority to legitimately and actively promote multilateral nuclear disarmament through the United Nations and to police other countries to discourage lateral proliferation.

France and China have already agreed to abolish their nuclear weapons should the superpowers disarm. Israel, Pakistan and India, who have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, would need extra pressure.

Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has called for a clear road map for nuclear disarmament to be established.

Time is not on our side.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

George W. Bush as a Theorist of Sovereignty

For those of you who don't know, my dissertation in Ethnic Studies will deal with sovereignty, most specifically Guam's role in producing America's sovereignty, or what role its invisibility or nothingness plays in producing America as sovereign.

One of the thing which is currently frustrating me is the fact that part of the writing of a dissertation is the preparation of a literature review, or a sometimes helpful, sometimes useless review of what others have said about your topic of choice and how you will use them or defy them. If you are familiar with the bulk of work on sovereignty it all basically says the same things nowadays, drawing mildly different conclusions around assertions that no one can really contest. In historical terms, meaning the development of sovereignty over the past 500 years for example, the ideas of the late Senator Alan Cranston are not so different then the conceptions of Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt. (they draw the same basic geneaology and end up in the present day with a similar crisis, but naturally use different languages (can you imagine Alan Cranston talking about transcendence vs. immanence?) and promote different political projects for those today seeking to reconile the shifts taking place today)

For those unfamiliar with sovereignty, I'll provide a short history. Sovereignty begins largely in religious terms with political effects. It is a theory of rights and relations between those who govern and those who are governed. The explaination for the right to rule, the existence of a sovereign power who was considered to be unchallengeable within their domain, dervied from a divine source. The source of sovereignty, is therefore outside of the earthly world, and whatever political or physical body that sovereign power is collected in within this world is not to be constrained by any limits other than what is defined from the source of said sovereignty.

Given this framework, power is theoretically absolute and the sovereign is not accountable to those who he governs, but rather the source of his sovereignty, namely God. On earth this transmission of sovereignty and power rarely runs so smoothly. In the Middle Ages for example, the powers of both the Church and the King were articulated to share the same source, yet each had different functions and intentions in the world around them (even if control could be used to describe both).

We find an important shift in the source of sovereignty in the 17th and 18th century with the work of philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and Jacques Jean Rosseau who attribute in different ways to an earthly source, namely the people of a nation or a society. This shift takes place and is codified for a number of different reasons, such as development of different technologies which allowed people across great distances to nonetheless imagine themselves as being the same, the shift from the way populaces are governed and power is located (art of government to governmentality), and also the work by men such as the Brothers Grimm who would assist in the "invention" of peoples and traditions through the collection of "folk" tales which would become the "history" of nations.

What follows though the above mentioned diffusion of power in society is also the diffusion of sovereignty. One could almost say that it disappears from the equation, just as the brutal violence of the sovereign's law becomes displaced by the banal control of norms.

The issue in all of these articulations is where the source of sovereignty lies, in the divine? The social? In Reason? But what happens with the rise and formalization of European nations, starting with the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia and later the clear rise of modern nations and articulations of modern international law in the 19th century, is the shifting of discussions of sovereignty to a formal level whereby external recognition becomes a defining characteristic. The source of sovereignty in most texts becomes externalized within the family of nations, meaning the sovereignty of a nation is dependent upon its matching particular requirements "nations" collectively share and also the recognition of sanctity the borders that said nation claims.

Before continuing, it is important to note that although the way a thing called "sovereignty" is formalized and accepted and becomes part of a general framework which is supposed to govern the conduct between nations. Texts which deal with sovereignty do not necessarily address the production of a nation's sovereignty, or what networks of power, meaning, force and material accumulation have to go into authorizing the right or naturalness/acceptability of a particular political act, program or relationship. (So to connect this to my project, how is it that the United States, besides a simple citation of treaties, appears to hold a natural, expected right to Guam, which lies beyond any simple questioning or problemtization?)

Instead most texts deal with a basic thing called sovereignty, which is never produced, but merely changes over time, and is today in crisis by extranational organizations, Imperial ambitions of First World Nations and Rhizomic terrorist cells.

For me, the assumption of a concrete and formal form of sovereignty is useless for thinking about Guam and its position today. Why? Because if we assume that sovereignty is a zero-sum equation (you have it or you don't have it) or at its most extreme, force/pressure against a legal right (neocolonial influence), then the issue is merely to include Guam within the current global framework for nation-state belonging. Or in other words, get sovereignty for Guam.

In some ways, this is precisely what I along with a small number of Chamorros want: political independence for Guam, and the opportunity to join the rest of the world as some sort of equal partner. But does the receiving of sovereignty in this formal way really mean receiving either of these things? If we look at the nations that have decolonized over the past 40 years, they are hardly equal with their former colonizers, since the world that awaited their freshly forged national souls and cultures, was one defined by itchy and greedy neo-colonial figures, trapping them in the same structurally inequitable relationship, although now with less odor from colonialism. For more evidence of the meaningless of formal sovereignty for small, developing and newly decolonized nations, we need only look at the islands in the Micronesia that surround Guam.

Islands such as Palau have formal sovereignty, but if we look closely at the history of their negotiations with the United States and even the way their government and economy is situated today, the political existence of Palau demands that we redefine sovereignty so that it can mean something, since if the formal sovereignty that Palau has is supposed to be sovereignty, then sovereignty means nothing.

Only the worse American apologist would argue that Guam has sovereignty right now. And only a foolish and idealistic person would argue that Guam is currently on some natural and self-correcting road to getting meaningful sovereignty. The history of sovereignty's changes and development, instead of reconciling the colonial relationships that places such as Guam, Okinawa, Puerto Rico, Hawai'i and indigenous peoples represent, instead develop quaint footnotes or states of exception where these places reside politically. Nowadays, these states of exception are not insane, chaotic places, but ones which take on very formal appearances. They can be invoked, they can be detailed, they can be studied and visited, without those making these gestures of study or reference seeing the need for any sort of resolution of the conflict, the contradition, the hypocrisy that those states of exception represent.

Take for instance an October 29, 1971 Pacific Daily News editorial titled "U.S. Colonialism." In it the editor discusses and marginally decries US colonialism in the Micronesia region, without making any reference to the US colonialism going on in Guam! Guam is invoked in the editorial, but only in order to provide reference for the approximate size of British colonies in the Pacific, not because of the need to discuss American colonial sins or guilt there. For this editor, the ambiguous political existence was not sufficient enough or tangible enough to support even the mere mention of Guam as a US colony, instead it simply faded into the background and become the natural ground beneath his articulation.

In the world today, colonialism is not supposed to exist, or is supposed to be eradicated by the year 2010. Therefore, the way to analyze and view Guam and its relationship to the United States and the rest of the world is not through the formal rules of governence, but through the informal, obscene world of political meanings.

We can find this point in a hilariously depressing way in the following clip, which is a statement by President George W. Bush, during the 2004 campaign, on tribal sovereignty.

Question: What do you think tribal sovereignty means in the 21st century, and how do we resolve conflicts between tribes and the federal and the state governments?
President Bush: Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. You're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And, therefore, the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.

A number of things achieve an almost banal and confusing clarity in the stumbling of Bush. First, Bush makes the mistake of breaking from sickly common sense by stating that sovereignty is "given," a point which is completely true (for every nation state, sovereignty is dependent upon it being given in the sense that it is not questioned, critiqued or worked actively to be undermined), but reveals the clear condescending gaze of the US against Native Americans. Second, in his constant reiteration of "sovereignty meaning sovereign" we get past the chavuinistic tautaulogy of "my decision is my decision," and get into the meaningless reptition as the cover for an obscene meaning which cannot be adequately covered over by any formal terms.

Of course Bush doesn't believe it, probably doesn't even understand what he's talking about or what is happening. Bu above board, meaning formally he is right, right? There has been an elaborate legal maze that has been developed around this issue whereby the formal alludes to a civilized, legal, adult, productive relationship between the US and tribes, where there is no colonization, but only mutually recognized sovereignty entities.

Within the world of the obscene however, which sadly more closely resembles the world around us, colonialism is not just alive and well, but necessary and accompanied with all manner of infantilized, racialized, primitivized mythology to back it up. The formal only goes so far and once its cover of you ends, you tend to wallow in unintelligability along its margins, since there is not supposed to be any calculus to measure the breadth of the obscene.

To continue with Micronesian examples, let's start with The Solomon Report. For those of you who don't know what this is, it was a report comissioned in the early 1960's by President Kennedy, which is basically an outline for ensuring a dependent and intimate relationship between the United States and what was at that time the Trust Territory and is now, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Palau. Here is a line from the report which stresses the importance of these islands, "Micronesia is said to be essential to the U.S. for security reasons. We cannot give the area up..."

Formally what took place during the 1960's - 1990's in the rest of the islands in Micronesia (fuera di Guahan) were processes of decolonization, which by virtue of even this limp facade attested to the strategic value of these islands. In The Solomon Report, because of its clandestine character, the need of the United States is expressed and laid bare. In order to create a buffer in the Pacific, and to effectively control a huge portion of the entire globe, we must have these islands. But naturally, this cannot be spoken of, cannot be laid on the table, it cannot truly enter into the formal world of negotiations which created all these new exciting island governments and states. Instead this need stays obscene, beneath the proceedings, drawing from racist and infantilized notions to reverse and make invisible the needs of the United States, by fabricating from notions of islands being backwards, economically unsustainable, culturally lazy and so on, that it is truly these islands that need the United States. But this isn't some isolated instance of dependent reversal. This is a gesture which produces sovereignty, it projects the needs of the subject of sovereignty to the object of sovereignty, thereby creating the subject as one distinguished by a lack of such mediated concerns.

In Hobbes for example, those governed, beneath the watchful eye and hovering boot of soveriegn power are mediated by apetites and aversions, that constantly mediate them and turn them into petty, pitiful creatures of limited vision. Their apetites constantly push them into more and more precarious positions of risk, danger and near death, but because aversion governs them as well, they constantly pull back in loyalty to the ultimate human aversion, the aversion to death. Therefore, in an articulation of sovereignty surprisingly close to Bataille's, the realm of the soveriegn is not just to decide the conditions of life and death, but that it is also to be beyond such concerns.

Thus formally, this dependent relationship is codified, but this formal surface tells us nothing about the obscene web of meaning which both forced these neocolonial relationships and structured the state of exception that these islands exist in.

This is why I am committed to addressing the way sovereignty works beyond the formal and into the points of its production within the natural, the banal, the obscene. As Slavoj Zizek writes in Welcome to the Desert of the Real, If you cannot change the explicit, formal rules, then you must work to change the underlying, unwritten obscene rules.

The history of sovereignty means little for explaining Guam's current geo-political existence, meaning its banal and exceptional status. Such histories persistently focus on the way sovereignty as a concept has changed over time, the unifying notion of a historical continuity or development leading them to put aside the fact that sovereignty is something which must be produced and reproduced at every moment, and what means and methods must always be deployed in order to maintain a regime beyond mere material/violent assertions of authority.

Sovereignty as it is dominantly understood relies upon a communal recognition, that sovereignty is not so much produced as brought into existence by a recognition of a nation's right. This means nothing for Guam, as sovereignty the way I understand the relationship between the US and Guam relies on clear misrecognition.Whereas the traditional notion of sovereignty requires a shared understanding, a conscious clarity, to understand the relationship between Guam and the US, we must interrogate clear ambiguity, invisibility, banality.

That is why so much of the process of decolonization must take place outside of formal forms. It must take place in everyday conversations in our relationships with each other, the concerned, caring or antagonistic gestures and so on. What I say about my academic work in varied spaces of life, is most likely more important that what my work could ever do as a contained text within academia. In my master's thesis that I am almost done with for my department in San Diego, as a whole most Chamorros or just "regular" people would have no idea what I'm talking about when they read it, as a whole. When I talk about it however, meaning bring it into conversations, teach Chamorros with it, or weave it into art or poetry most people instantly snatch onto it and it makes complete sense. Because what I say is not foreign to them, its deep within all Chamorros, a screwed up dynamic (Chamorro impossibility) that we all contend with and find different ways of covering over, rejecting, accepting or in the worst instances celebrating.

This by no means that formal processes of decolonization should not be pursued. But only that as we fight on that terrain we recognize how limited success will be there, if it ever happens, and how the very ground upon which we fight is something which must be uprooted, destroyed and replaced first.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Minagof yan Google

I decided to take a sort of intellectual break this weekend, since thinking about my dissertation was starting to drive me nuts. While I was driving down from Los Angeles the other day, I did have a number of breakthroughs, but still the whole process of social science writing is so meaningless to me now, I almost wish I had gone into a philosophy program instead of an Ethnic Studies program.


My statcounter is almost to 30,000, so in celebration of the popularity of my blog, I thought I'd try something a little fun and a little narcissistic. What I did was google around different combinations of keywords and then see where on that list my blog showed up, if it showed up at all.

Guam Blog = #39

Chamorro Blog = #1 (BIBA!)

Chamoru Blog = #1 (BIBA ta'lo!)

Zizek and Guam

Shinji and Rei = #5 (Ti hu hongge este, sa' bula na website put Evangelion)

Malafunkshun =

J.D. Crutch = #7

Guam and Colonialism = #15

Cowboy Bebop and fake and eye = #3 (out of 133,000!)

Decolonization and Pacific = #105

Fanon, Lacan, Zizek = #17

V for Vendetta, Ultraviolet and Equilibrium = #53

Guam Progressive = Somewhere past 500

Chamorro Progressive = #1 (phew...)

Angel Leon Guerrero Santos = #9

Ghost in the Shell and Evangelion and Hindi Movie
= #59

Tiyan = #10

"Pacific Daily News" and crap = #16 (Pine'lo-ku na mas takhilo' siempre iyo-ku)

Myspace and Chamoru = #20

Amir Khan and Guam = #11

Chamorro and Dead and Iraq = #1 (na'triste este)

"I Love You" in Chamorro = #10 (chagi este na link lokkue yanggen este un aliligao)

Robert Underwood and Guam = #65 (put fabot bota UA!)

Felix Camacho and Guam = #88

Ami Suzuki and Guam
= #8 (kampai!)

Massage Parlor and Guam = #39

Famoksaiyan IV

November 19, 2006
10 am - 5 pm
Guam Communications Network Office
4201 Long Beach Blvd. Suite 218
Long Beach, CA 90807

We are looking for Chamorros and other people from Guam, from all walks of life, students, activists, manamko', i manritirao esta, professionals, etc. who are interested in working towards a better and more progressive future for Chamorros and their communities.

Contact Michael Lujan Bevacqua for more info

Maila ya nihi ta fanagululumi put i kottura-ta yan i taotao-ta!

Just want to give everyone a heads up on the next Famoksaiyan meeting, which will be next month in Long Beach. Since the conference in April, we've had a flurry of informal activity, all of it working to get this group closer to some sort of sustainability. Building off of all the energy of April and then the first follow up meeting in Berkeley, a number of our members went recently to testify before the United Nation's Committee on Decolonization. You can read their testimonies in the most recent issue of Minagahet.

The purpose of this Southern California meeting is similar to the previous two: first to bring together in a productive political way, more Chamorros and others interested people into the group and begin to give them some tools to start reconnecting to each other and their islands in not just cultural ways, but political ways as well.

I will have more concrete info such as the time and agenda very soon, but just wanted to let everyone know as soon as possible about the meeting, so you can start making plans to attend, or start spreading the word to people who you know would want to attend. Part of this meeting will hopefully be a report back by members of the Guam Coalition that recently went to New York and testified before the United Nations Committee on Decolonization and met with a number of other activists and organizations. We will also be having workshops and discussions groups focused on what Chamorros in the states can do about recent military build ups in Guam as well as how we can revitalize Chamorro language and culture.

If you are interested in attending, want to know more so you can help out with the organizing, or know someone who you would like me to invite, please get in touch with me as soon as possible. Si Yu'us Ma'ase, hu diseseha na anggen malago hao sumaonao, na siña hao, sa' sen magåhet i finayi na mas metgot na manhita.


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