Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cultures of Commemoration/Liberation

Mana'manman yu' nai i ga'chong-hu Si Madel muna'hanaoggue yu' ni' este. I taotao ni' ma kubre gi i tinige' i abok-hu Si Keith, estaba profesor giya UOG lao ti apmam u profesor giya UCLA. Hu taitai iyo-na dissertation ni' ma mentiona pues ti nina'manman yu' nu ayu. Manman yu' mismo sa' ma tugiyi i pinagat-na este gof annakoko' na tinige'.

Achokka' buente baba na bei assuma este, lao annok nu Guahu na i titige' ti ha komprende i sinangan-na Si Keith pues ha chule' ha' i palabras-na, lao ti ha hulat chumule' lokkue kinemprende.

Lao magof hu sinembatgo na ma na'huyong este taiguini, sa' achokka' kalang academic i fino'-na Si Keith, sina ma chule' gof impottante na tiningo' ginnen i che'cho'-na.

Divergent Chamorro loyalties, cultural identities in NMI, Guam
By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
Variety Features Editor
The Marianas Variety

Competing legacies of colonial loyalty affect the intra-cultural relations among Chamorros on Guam and in the Northern Mariana Islands, resulting in divergent cultural identities.

This and much more were integral to the lectures of visiting scholar Dr. Keith Camacho at the annual Public School System Teachers Institute on Capital Hill and at the American Memorial Park’s Visitor Center on Saturday.

Exploring the politics of colonialism and Chamorro agency, Camacho highlighted three important inter-related themes: historical development of narrative devices of loyalty and liberation in the contexts of American and Japanese governance; the emergence of two competing colonial histories; and the formation of conflicting and divergent Chamorro loyalties and cultural identities in the early 20th century.

In the public lecture on Saturday night, Camacho delved into the meaning of the words “loyalty” and “liberation,” and how these terms “have been implemented and interpreted by both colonizer and colonized.”

Camacho said in attempting to establish colonial rule, colonial powers often sought to a acquire the loyalty of their subjects, if not achieving outright political conquest through violence and conflict.

Citing his sources, Camacho said “the rhetoric of loyalty has been invented as a form of social control,” while the concept of spiritual liberation, he said, was used by European missionaries to convert people to Christianity that contributed either to the rise or demise of colonial rule. Providing historical background on the transfer of colonial rule, Camacho said the Spanish-American war in 1898 led to the Americans acquiring Guam and the Germans purchasing the Northern Marianas from Spain in 1898. However, because Japan’s cooperation in World War I, Germany’s control over the Northern Marianas was turned over to Japan by the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919.

Camacho said the Chamorros were introduced to their new “mother countries” with Japan “filling a position established and held by the Spanish for 250 years.”

He added that at the time, “Chamorros expressed no collective, inter-island affinity for national belonging to either Japan or the United States.”

Citing the work of Waller and Linklater, Camacho said, “new loyalties lack strong emotional attachment until they have survived real tests and been hallowed by time—or have been sealed by a compact, formal or informal.” He added, “Loyalty to a nation, religion or ethnic group does not naturally find resonance within the hearts and minds of ordinary people.”

Both the Japanese and American administrations in the pre-World War II Northern Marianas and Guam used loyalty as a lever to impose colonial rule “to shape the native to be like us, but not quite like us.”

“The concept of loyalty, as perceived by Japanese colonial authorities, functioned in the same manner as that of American loyalty on Guam ‘to shape the native to be like us, but not quite like us’. Yet these concepts differed in application and in interpretation over time,” said Camacho.

As for liberating the islands, Camacho said the American naval authorities made no official proclamations about “liberating” the Chamorros, while the Japanese in the Northern Marianas touted the idea of “liberating” the islands from American, English and German colonial rule. Camacho also said that “the politics of American colonialism on Guam attempted to guarantee that the ‘Chamorro’, among other colonized subjects, be loyal to the American nation only insofar as citizenship or full constitutional recognition remained beyond their reach.”

On the other hand, Camacho stressed that the Japanese in the Northern Marianas used both loyalty and liberation as concepts of social control and national belonging. For Camacho, the Japanese used education as a means to insure the obedient and loyal acquiescence of the Micronesian peoples.

Camacho also noted the citizenship movement on both Guam and in the Northern Marianas by the Chamorros as they saw loyalty as a means of achieving “equality” and a shared sense of “nationality.”

These political attempts to achieve recognition, Camacho said, “demonstrated that the Chamorros, as a cultural unit of one language and shared customs, had now acquired conflicting notions of loyalty. Chamorro inter-island and intercultural relations, Camacho said, were further aggravated by the Japanese and Americans by their fostering loyalty and deepened divisions — rather than unity — in Chamorro cultural collectivity throughout the Mariana Islands.

The concept of loyalty and liberation in the years to come, Camacho continued, “would assume greater force, meaning and persuasion in narrating the histories and cultural identities of the Mariana Islands—the profound violence of World War II is a case in point.”

Meanwhile, both Japanese and American colonial authorities had been discriminatory in their treatment of colonized Chamorros on Guam and in the Northern Marianas. Despite American efforts to earn the loyalty of Guam Chamorros, they perceived the Chamorros as either “noble savages” or “ignoble savages.” The Nanyo-cho on the other hand, implemented discriminatory policies and blocked any Chamorro access to power.

Citing historian Peattie, Camacho said the actual purpose of the policies was to ensure the Japanese held important socio-economic positions, reflecting the hierarchical nature of the settler society.

Camacho, citing the same historian, said the Japanese considered the Chamorros not only second-class citizens, but also less worthy than Chinese and Koreans with whom they shared a Confucian cultural heritage.

PSS Teachers Institute

In an interview with Variety earlier on Saturday, Camacho said his goal in the workshop titled “Teaching World War II in the Marianas: Global and local approaches,” was for teachers to find common ground in teaching World War II in the Marianas.

He said his approach had been to “draw on teacher experiences, draw on their knowledge, and draw on mine and try to find a common ground.”

Yumiko Imaizumi, also a visiting Japanese scholar, preceded Camacho’s lecture in the morning and presented an overview of the Nanyo-cho and its political, economic, social motivations, consequences and contributions to the region. Camacho said Imaizumi “historicized very well that period providing primary and secondary source data and we had the privilege of watching 1933 documentary footage.”

“Imaizumi also touched on historiographical issues and helped me segue into my lecture,” said Camacho.

Camacho assigned four readings which touched on international, Pacific, regional, and local themes “mainly in trying to understand the Japanese and American role in the war in the Pacific and how the Americans and the Japanese have interpreted that and how the Pacific islanders themselves likewise might have interpreted their war experiences.”

Essays concerning the islanders as actors in the retelling of the war, the Melanesian islanders’ reaction to seeing Black American soldiers, and why the war did not end on Guam were discussed in the workshop.

Camacho also talked about competing perceptions and war literature like the novel “Mariquita” which Camacho believes is the only existing Chamorro novel on the war. He also talked about his students’ reactions to the novels “Mariquita,” “Farewell to Manzanar” and Art Spiegelman’s “The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale.”

Camacho is an assistant professor in Pacific Islander American Studies at the University of California in Los Angeles, and a research scholar at the Macmillan Brown Center for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

A graduate of Guam’s Father Duenas Memorial High School, Camacho has a bachelor’s degree in literature and secondary education from the University of Guam, and a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Hawaii in Manoa.

He is currently preparing his dissertation, “Cultures of Commemoration: The Politics of War, Memory, and History in the Mariana Islands,” for publication.

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