Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanks"taking" Day!

Z Magazine Online
November 2006 Volume 19 Number 11

Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians
By Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro

Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New England has organized the National Day of Mourning in Plymouth at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Hundreds of Native people and supporters from all four directions join in. Every year, Native people from throughout the Americas speak the truth about our history and the current issues and struggles we are involved in.

Thanksgiving in this country— and in particular in Plymouth—is much more than a harvest home festival. It is a celebration of the pilgrim mythology. According to this mythology, the pilgrims arrived, the Native people fed them and welcomed them, the Indians promptly faded into the background, and everyone lived happily ever after.

The pilgrims are glorified and mythologized because the circumstances of the first English-speaking colony in Jamestown were frankly too ugly (for example, they turned to cannibalism to survive) to hold up as an effective national myth. The pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus “discovered” anything. Every inch of this land is Indian land. The pilgrims (who did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland. They came as part of a commercial venture. They introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and gay bigotry, jails, and the class system to these shores. One of the very first things they did when they arrived on Cape Cod—before they made it to Plymouth—was to rob Wampanoag graves at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians’ winter provisions of corn and beans as they were able to carry. In doing this, they were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to their treatment of the indigenous peoples here. And no, they did not even land at that sacred shrine called Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression which we are proud to say we buried in 1995.

The first official “Day of Thanksgiving” was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of people from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had gone to Mystic, Connecticut to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and men.

About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these pitiful European strangers would not have survived their first several years in “New England” were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people. What Native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of their lands, and never-ending repression. They were treated either as quaint relics from the past or virtually invisible.

When we dare to stand up for our rights, we are considered unreasonable. When we speak the truth about the history of the European invasion, we are often told to “go back where we came from.” But we came from right here, our roots are here. They do not extend across any ocean.

The National Day of Mourning began in 1970 when Wamsutta Frank James, a Wampanoag, was asked to speak at a state dinner celebrating the 350th anniversary of the pilgrim landing. He refused to speak in praise of the white man for bringing civilization to the poor heathens. Native people from throughout the Americas came to Plymouth that year where they mourned their forebears who had been sold into slavery, burned alive, massacred, cheated, and mistreated since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.

But the commemoration of National Day of Mourning goes far beyond the circumstances of 1970. Can we give thanks as we remember Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was framed by the FBI and has been falsely imprisoned since 1976? Despite mountains of evidence exonerating Peltier and the proven misconduct of federal prosecutors and the FBI, Peltier has been denied a new trial. To Native people, the case of Peltier is one more ordeal in a litany of wrongdoings committed by the U.S. government against us. While the media in New England present images of the “Pequot miracle” in Connecticut, the vast majority of Native people continue to live in the most abysmal poverty.

Can we give thanks for the fact that, on many reservations, unemployment rates surpass 50 percent? Our life expectancies are much lower, our infant mortality and teen suicide rates much higher, than those of white Americans. Racist stereotypes of Native people, such as those perpetuated by the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, and countless local and national sports teams, persist.

Every single one of the more than 350 treaties that Native nations signed has been broken by the U.S. government. Bipartisan budget cuts have severely reduced educational opportunities for Native youth and the development of new housing on reservations, and have caused deadly cutbacks in health-care and other necessary services. Are we to give thanks for being treated as unwelcome in our own country?

Perhaps we are expected to give thanks for the war that is being waged by the Mexican government against indigenous peoples there, with the military aid of the U.S. in the form of helicopters and other equipment? When the descendants of the Aztec, Maya, and Inca flee to the U.S., the descendants of the wash-ashore pilgrims term them “illegal aliens” and hunt them down.

We object to the “Pilgrim’s Progress” parade and to what goes on in Plymouth because they are making millions of tourist dollars every year from the false pilgrim mythology. That money is being made off the backs of our slaughtered indigenous ancestors.

Increasing numbers of people are seeking alternatives to Thanksgiving (and such holidays as Columbus Day). They are coming to the conclusion that, if we are ever to achieve some sense of community, we must first face the truth about the history of this country and the toll that history has taken on the lives of millions of indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian, and poor and working class white people.

The myth of Thanksgiving, served up with dollops of European superiority and manifest destiny, just does not work for many people in this country. As Malcolm X once said about the African-American experience in America, “We did not land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.” Exactly.

Mahtowin Munro (Lakota) and Moonanum James (Wampanoag) are coleaders of United American Indians of New England

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Engines of Inequatlity

Public Colleges as "Engines of Inequality"
The New York Times
November 23, 2006

Democrats who ran for Congress this fall made the cost of college a big campaign issue. Now that they’ve won control of the House and Senate, they can prepare to act swiftly on at least some of the factors that have priced millions of poor and working-class Americans right out of higher education. The obvious first step would be to boost the value of the federal Pell Grant program — a critical tool in keeping college affordable that the federal government has shamefully ceased to fund at a level that meets the national need.

But larger Pell Grants can’t solve this crisis alone. Policy changes will also be required in the states, where public universities have been choking off college access and upward mobility for the poor by shifting away from the traditional need-based aid formula to a so-called merit formula that heavily favors affluent students. The resulting drop in the fortunes of even high-performing low-income students — many of whom no longer attend college at all — is documented in an eye-opening report released recently by the Education Trust, a nonpartisan foundation devoted to education reform.

The public universities were founded on the premise that they would provide broad access in exchange for taxpayer subsidies. That compact has been pretty much discarded in the state flagship campuses, which have increasingly come to view themselves as semiprivate colleges that define themselves not by inclusion, but by how many applicants they turn away, and how many of their students perform at the highest levels on the SAT, an index that clearly favors affluent teenagers who attend the best schools and have access to tutors.

The flagship schools compete for high-income, high-achieving students who would otherwise attend college elsewhere, while overlooking low-income students who are perfectly able to succeed at college but whose options are far more narrow.

In recent years, aid to students whose families earn over $100,000 has more than quadrupled at the public flagship and research universities. Incredibly, the average institutional grant to students from high-income families is actually larger than the average grant to low- or middle-income families.

Partly as a result, high-performing students from low-income groups are much less likely to attend college than their high-income counterparts — and are less likely to ever get four-year degrees if they do attend.

These are ominous facts at a time when the college degree has become the basic price of admission to both the middle class and the new global economy. Unless the country reverses this trend, upward mobility through public higher education will pretty much come to a halt.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nihi Ta Fan Chat gi Fino' Chamoru Put Hindi Movies Part 7

Back by popular demand! Puzzling to many, useful to few! My Nihi Ta Fan Chat Gi Fino' Chamoru Put Hindi Movies section is an interesting mix of sheer addiction, silly love and simple decolonization. If you are a Chamorro speaker or someone interested in learning Chamorro, and also love Bollywood movies, let me know a particular movie you would like to have a dialogue about and if I've seen it, then I'll post it on my blog.

Rashne: Hafa Adai Miget!

Miget: Hafa Adai Rashne! Mamaolek ha'?

Rashne: Maolek ha', I guess, lao sen tinane' yu' put eskuela.

Miget: Ai hunggan hu gof komprende enao, lao sigi ha'. Singko pat sais na sakkan tetehnan!

Rashne: Po’lo ha’ enao…Otro fino’-ta, hafa na kachidon Bollywood un e’egga' halacha? Guaha maolek?

Miget: Ai adai, kao este ha' iyo-ta relationship? Umakuentusi put kachidon Bollywood?

Rashne: Lakisao, mungga matutuhun enao na kuentos.

Miget: Despensa yu’ lao kalang machaleleghua’ i siniente-ku pa’go, put i kachido hu egga’ gi painge.

Rashne: Hafa na’ån-ña?

Miget: Lage Raho Munna Bhai.

Rashne: Enao gumuahi hao? Pine’lo-ku na kachidon na’chalek.

Miget: Oh, hunggan, hunggan. Mampo na’chalek, hinasso-ku noskuantos biahi na para u mayamak i ha’of-hu, sa’ sen fotte i chalek-hu siha.

Rashne: Ya put ayu na duru na mayalalaka’ chata’an hao pa’go?

Miget: Ahe’, ai nangga fan, mungga inalulula. Gof gaddon, gof complex este na kachido. Sa’ gi un ratu chumachalek hao kalang kumekematai. Ya gi i sigente ratu tumatanges hao kalang i maguaiyå-mu kumekematai.

Rashne: Taimanu mana’daña este na klasin siniente siha?

Miget: Gof triste este na kachido sa’ ma chule’ halom guihi, i finayin Gandhi para u fa’maolek i prubleman i taotao siha. Pues guaha un lahi, ya ha na’falingu todu i salapen i tatå-ña. Ha agang i bulaku Si Munna Bhai, ya ha faisen gui’, “hafa bei cho’gue,” sa’ siempre hinassosso-ña na para u puno’n maisa gui’.

Rashne: Ya hafa ineppe-ña Si Munna Bhai?

Miget: Ha abisa este na lahi, yan todu i otro ni’ manachachaki, gi i finayin Gandhi.

Rashne: Kalang drama este este, manu na gaige i nina’chalek? Ginnen hafa un sangani yu’ este, ti chumachatge yu’.

Miget: Sa’ taotao India hao, siempre un tungo’ esta didide’ put i filosofia Gandhi?

Rashne: Hunggan, gof ya-hu pot hemplo este na pidasun i finayi-ña, Si Gandhi. “Meggaiña na taotao ma sasångan na Si Yu’us i minagahet, lao gi i lailai-hu siha hu fakcha’i na mas dinanche, mas magahet na i Minagahet Si Yu’us.”

Miget: Tahdong enao na finayi.

Rashne: Lao fihu gråbu pat serious i chine’guen Gandhi, kontra binaba yan biolensia, ti na’chalek.

Miget: Lao gi i kachido, na’chalek sa’ i bilaku, gangster, klasin taotao ni’ ga’mumu, Guiya pumapagat put Gandhi pa’go, Guiya sumusteteni i irensian Båbu.

Rashne: Hu hasso ginnen i fina’nina na kachidon Munnai Bhai, na hunggan gof violent na taotao ayu. Ya gi este, Guiya pumapagat put Gandhi? Hunggan, ginnen hafa hu hungok hafa, likidu yan na’chalek.

Miget: Oh ai, yan gi este na kachido, bulalala’ na lalahi tumatånges. Mas ki kasamiento este, meggai na lågu gi meggai na fasun lalåhi.

Rashne: Machaleleghua’ hao put este? Na mananånges bula’ na lalåhi? Pues enao gof na’chalek.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Daggao i Nasion Chamoru

After watching the video on Youtube of a UCLA student getting tased repeatedly at the UCLA library, that I had posted on my blog one of my friends commented that this made her think of an article I had written a while back titled Spear of the Nation.

Before I go on though, to view the somewhat disturbing video, go here:

If you are currently a UC student or a former UC student and were disturbed, shocked or apalled by this excessive violence, please consider signing the petition I'm linking to below.

Since I'm sort of on Indigenous Genocide Break this week I probably won't be posting much new stuff, but instead recycling stuff, and so this connection to an old article, written by a different version of me, this seemed like a perfect excuse.

I should warn people though, that I wrote this article in 2003 after returning to live in the United States after spending the previous five years on Guam at University of Guam for undergraduate and graduate school. Naturally moving here was difficult. First of all, I had come from Guam with not just more radical politics, but with a deeper and more passionate commitment to indigenous politics, decolonization and forcing people everywhere to reckon with the indigenous exclusions that their national identities depend upon for consistency.

But when I came back to live in the states, I was brutally confronted with the fact that I was no longer indigenous, I was now on someone else's land. No wanting to deal with this fact however, I initially shyed away from discussions of indigenous issues, instead choosing to identify hard core as a leftist or a liberal. This article was eventually published in 2004 in Minagahet Zine, in the Preparing for War issue. It was originally written for one of the biggest crazy leftist websites out there, Democratic Underground, but fortunately/unfortunately not accepted for publication.

I shudder to think what I would have become had it been accepted and then I was propelled down a very normal liberal path. Although I can't completely disclose or discuss my aversion here now, I can say that the limits of liberals in the United States is one of the reasons why the struggles of indigenous people here and its colonies have so little traction. The liberal response to claims for sovereignty is ultimately only cultural sovereignty, and not cultural sovereignty in any real sense, but rather multiculturalism. While in a ridiculous abstract sense, multiculturalism might seem to be positive and important, because of how all cultures are "allowed" to exist in a particular space, supposedly equal, such is never the case. There is always one culture, which becomes the invisible mediator between cultures, deeming what is civilized, acceptable, what is barbaric, backwards, terrorist, radical, unacceptable. In the United States for example, we see the multicultural matrix determined by both capitalist necessities (culture cannot interfere with productivity or efficiency) and white culture as the only constituent culture, or only culture which is capable of touching the source of power and order in the United States, and either maintaining or revolutionizing said order.

As I've said many times in many ways, life in Guam is all about the United States. For the majority of people its about propping it up, protecting it ideologically, defending it militarily, celebrating it both daily and lazily. For others its about tearing it apart, tearing it down, or finding a way to accept its dominance in everything in Guam. In an interesting way, when I came back to the United States, this article represented first my attempt to elude issues of my settler status here by occupying the position of the politically engaged progressive American citizen subject, and second somehow actualize those both latent and very conscious Americanizing desires.

I feel I've changed since the writing of this article, and moved into a different more productive political position. One which isn't simply right or left, which is a binary structured not just around the death of a diversity of political positions, but the obliteration of any possibility for those who lie either dead or alive beneath said political debate. Guam, Chamorros, Native Americans and African Americans all in different ways lie outside this debate, and require a different position to speak from, to be heard from, to carve out sovereignty from.

Most often, my positioning myself in this space comes from a mixture of neglect from mainstream media and politics in the United States to anything related to Guam (the recent UN trip by Famoksaiyan members was not covered by any major media outlet in the United States save for KPFA in Berkeley), as well as the ridiculous comments that I receive from conservative idiots who accuse me of being some Birkenstock wearing liberal. Este i minagahet, ti hu tungo' hafa "Birkenstocks!"

To be very blunt, I'll post below, before at long last the text of the Spear of the Nation article, a piece of one of my posts on this blog from 2004. Ya este na tinige' pau fina'nu'i hao i hinanao-hu, nai estaba daggao i nasion Amerikanu yu', ya pa'go nai Guahu i daggao i nasion Chamoru!

Calling me or any other Chamorro activists on Guam "leftists" means to suffer from a lack of imagination. We situate ourselves as indigenous first, which means those labels of left and right don't apply.

I'm pointing this out because some rabid right wing poster invaded my blog today and posted some mindless comments. Please refrain from categorizing my arguments or positions as being "way on the left" because that is just a pathetic way of dimishing them and controlling them. If you want to have a serious clash or conversation here, please break out of that binary, black/white mindset. Only then can we begin to discuss this issues for reals, and not just resort to Hannity v. Colmes, Rush Windbag style namecalling nonsense.


by Michael Lujan Bevacqua

While reading about the brutal and almost fascist treatment some of the media met at last week’s protests at the FTAA, I was reminded of what one of my friends had jokingly said about the peace protests in San Francisco earlier this year.

Listening to the radio, of the mainstream news reporters covering the chaos and clashes between cops and recalcitrant protestors, he joked that rather then the covering of social unrest, from the sweeping Manichean metaphors and grave tones it sounded more like they were war reporting. From the very way the major media describes the clashes in our society today, whether they be mass protests, or voices of critical dissent, you can tell that there is something else on everyone’s mind, even if they aren’t articulating it. To put it plainly, a war is going on right now in this country, between the people, the peaceful and the powerful.

In the society around us, hidden and obscured by American flags, color-coded threats and embedded journalists the powerful are already preparing. They are already mobilizing for this war, just as they mobilized for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and may mobilize for war in Syria and Iran (Not North Korea though, cause they actually might have WMDs). With their proxies prominently placed front and center, the powerful are working in the background and dimly lit places in Washington. The puppet point man in this domestic, low-intensity conflict is none other than our one and only Commander and Thief George W. (Am I the only one who thinks that George Bush Jr. is like the Pinocchio from Jim Henson’s workshop? He looks like the Muppet
who became a real boy!)

The shock troops of the conservative cabal are already out in the field. First in my mind is the irony that more than a million dollars of the Bush $87 billion for Iraq went to fund the Miami police, who were busy last week protecting rich people/countries rights to destroy other nations, by destroying protestors. CONTELPRO is back in full effect, and already uncomfortable oddly dressed, yet well-groomed white males are infiltrating our anti-war organizations. Psychological warfare is being conducted each day by Fox News and others, who stop scaring the shit out of people just long enough to identify their sponsor (The Defense Department). Anti-war and dissident student organizations are threatened with “terrorist organization” status by the Justice Department and police in order to quell their protest, and strike fear into this country’s protest culture. Oh, and lets not forget the ongoing Republican “war on families,” which is maintained through the use of that horrifying weapon of mass destruction “family values.”

The idea of “war” has been hijacked by squinty-eyed, smirking gunslinger wannabes like Donald Rumsfeld, to justify whatever they are currently doing. And while the taxes of the American people support the war in Iraq, this conservative war at home is funded through corporate sponsors and political contributions, who’s filial loyalty and monetary devotion is repaid through voluntary and non-existent environmental restrictions, massive subsidies and war profiteering (I hear that next year, “WAR” will become just another check mark on a political donor card. “Donate X to the Bush Campaign, and receive a war against the following nations (Evildoers not on the official axis of evil list may cost extra)).

I think its time for a revolution to take place. And before people think about the end of our ways of life and our very existence and make excuses about how they can’t revolt this week (“Sorry, no revolution this week, I gotta see Ryan and Tristan’s wedding”), I should remind everyone that a revolution already has taken place. Michael Moore and others have referred to the special election, the selection of George W. as president by the Supreme Court as a coup d’etat, and they are correct in doing so. The country was blatantly stolen from us in 2000, however in actuality the country was stolen from us (the people) a long long time ago. The moneyed interests of the nation have been pulling politicians strings and making them say “the cow says moo” for centuries.

At this point it is very easy for many of us to just give up, give in, and grudgingly admit to any meaningful change beyond our grasps. I mean, each presidential election just seems to be a pointless decision between different sides of the same corrupt coin. The politics of this country seem so detached from the needs of its people that at times what we hear or see seems devoid of any common sense or rationale. And so many attempts to effect change, reform or call attention to the many problems of this nation are met with so antagonism and aggression, from the majority of the country.

I am reminded through all chaos that has become the society around me, of the words of Nelson Mandela. In 1961, from one of his many trials, Mandela spoke on the issue of violence as a response to government oppression:

This government (South African) has set the scene for violence by relying exclusively on violence with which to answer our people and their demands… Government violence can only breed counterviolence, if there is no dawning of sanity on the part of the government the dispute between the government and my people will be settled by force.

Mandela was a member of the African National Congress, which fought for decades for non-violent solutions to the institutional and inherent racism in South African society. However after being repressed and rebuffed usually with brutal force, they formed the Umkonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation. Frustrated with the racist regime, the ANC formed the Spear in order to put pressure on the South African government through less than legal means. With no lawful recourse left, the ANC saw four means by which they could effect change: sabotage, guerrilla warfare, and outright revolution. The Spear was created in order to perform acts of sabotage on the government, and force them into reform.

Now before you thank your lucky stars that we live in a land that’s free and the home to many brave people, you really should start reading more than just the New York Times, and watching more than just Fox News. A brutal, totalitarian and despotic regime is not as far off as we think.

While coordinating a question and answer question following the film The Pinochet Case at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival on Guam, someone made a comment about how terrible the atrocities (the midnight knocks and disappearances) in Chile at that time were, and how fortunate we are not to deal with that sort of thing. I responded to her comment saying that, “yes, we should be thankful, we must also be vigilante. The Patriot Act and other laws on the books enhance the authority of the government over us to an almost insane extent, . The police can “disappear” you much in the way Pinochet’s henchmen did. And with “liberals” such as Alan Dershowitz discussing the legalization of torture for information extraction from suspected terrorists, anything is possible (since in George Bush’s America, anyone caught outside a Free Speech Zone can be a terrorist.)

And just ask the two Democracy Now producers at last week’s FTAA protest about police brutality. In an interview after being released from jail, they described how police would wait until after most of the major media and crowds had left and then isolate groups of protestors and pounce on them like frenzied hyenas (Cheney cronies) on a wounded gazelle (Iraq, Alaska, Afghanistan, etc.) Whether people like to remember it or not, this type of brutality has been part of our society for centuries, violence in the defense of power has been utilized against immigrants, unions and popular protests. The FTAA attacks are just another recent example.

But brutality wasn’t the only abuse of the South African apartheid regime. They also institutionalized racism, which in effect legalized the establishment and the maintenance of blacks as a permanent underclass. With wages at about 1950 levels, little to no actual economic growth on the horizon, social spending constantly being slashed and burned, and the rich being overfed with disgusting tax cuts, the polarization of American society, if not already present, is on the way. The platitude of “the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer,” doesn’t do justice to that disgusting way in which our country, the richest in the world exists. And unless massive changes are made to our society, then we can become just as polarized as South Africa was, and eventually be forced to use the same violent means.

Mandela and others in the African National Congress resorted to violence because the law and those in power gave them no other options. We may soon find ourselves in that predicament. Which is why it is vital we fight for our own revolutions here, while those in power are still vulnerable, while they are still subject to laws that limit their power and authority. We must pick up the metaphorical Spear of our Nation now, and fight for our rights, and our people, or be forced to pick up the literal spear and fight later.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Decolonization in Guam" Remembering Our Roots

A report-back/ cultural event about the military build up in the pacific

@ La Pena Cultural Center
3105 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley (2 Blocks from Ashby bart)
Thursday, Nov. 30 7:30pm - 10pm (doors open at 7)
$5 - 20
no one turned away

with performances by: jacob perez, joevana santos, erica benton, and much more!
come join us for discussion, music, poetry, culture, food, and good vibes from guahan!

and check out this link if you can about a radio interview held recently at kpfa... -

Interview with Victoria Leon-Guerrero, Miget Tuncap, Kerri Ann Borja, Erica Benton about how the US military base build-up on Guam will further erode their rights.
Chanting by Guma Palu Li'e
Music by Chris Barnett "War Song" , Erica Benton "Back to Guahan"

biba nasion chamoru!
support chamoru self-determination!
stop da u.s. military build-up in the Pacifik!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Fina'na'an Siha

There are stories that several hundred years ago in Guam, the names of individuals were very fluid. While you would be identified with a clan, your name could change, and also the reputation of your clan based on your individual exploits, along with other family members. So for example, if you exhibited bravery during battle, you might be called matatnga or taima’å’ñao, to carry these exploits with you, possibly generated social capital for your family as well. If, however you exhibited less socially generous or respectful behavior, such as not sharing your catch achokka' menha hao, people might refer to you as chattao or sarcastically as taiguihan.

Or, if there was some part of your body which demanded attention then maybe your name would reflect that. My great-great grandfather from my grandmother's De Leon side was called bådu because of his crooked, hunched back. Sometimes however, the behaviors which inspire a particular name need not be bad social practices or heroic gestures, but maybe just curious quirks. The naming of a particular family pao chada for instance could be derived from any number of reasons, but one family that I know of was given the name because of the fact that un amko' gi i familia had a habit of smelling eggs at the store before buying them.

Crucial in recognizing here is that these are not simply fina'na'an or nicknames. These were not just play or fun names which accompanied your real name. These names, as they changed were your real names. As opposed to reflecting a static and concrete moment into which you entered into the symbolic network of meanings and norms and can therefore always be referred back to, this constant naming and renaming, reveals the clear inconsistency and fluidity of symbolic meaning.

Today, these names remain however in more concrete and fixed forms. Certain families bear names sometimes now for generations and do not produce new family names. Most family names today reflect, honor or commermorate an ancestor. From my grandfather I have such a family name, Bittot which is derived from Victor, a member of my family long past who is rumored to have started the tradition of blacksmithing in my family, which sadly may die with my grandfather. I would not necessarily say that this sort of naming is somehow uncreative compared to stories about family names such as cha'ka. But only that as time passes on, the stories that make it necessary to either honor or demonize that ancestor and name his or her descendants such disappear and only the name remains.

Here we see the difference between preservation and revitalization. We can preserve family names with little difficulty. Merely write them down and maybe add a few notes about why this family has this particular name, ya maolek ha' esta todu. Revitalization means taking another, more difficult step. It means keeping alive not just the content, but the form. It means continuing to produce family names. Revitalizing this practice means promoting and taking up this activity to give texture or paint the social fabric of not just an individual but an entire family or village, which is sadly disappearing.

It is for this reason that I am committed to not simply accepting existing family names for Chamorros, but work to make new ones. Although I have been slacking off, I did commit last year to making sure that for at least the next generation, my friend Mari belong to the familian Bleach, because of her love for the anime Bleach. Naturally this is not something which I can do alone, I will need to enlist the aid of several dozen people to ensure that the symbolic network is restructured around this name, and so that it can take on a life of its own.

I hope that you all will make similar gestures in your own lives and those around you. It is the difference between seeing culture as a static thing which you are given, preserve, and then pass on, as opposed to something which you play a huge role in creating, destroying, preserving and reviving. I love the network of fina'na'an that Chamorros have, but its survival in any meaningful form (as opposed to surviving in museum form) will depend on us reinvigorating it and not simply accepting existing labels, but working to forge new ones.

One thing which I do in order to keep my mind in this fluid mode, is to not have anyone's "birth" or "Christian" name on my cellphone, but instead an ever changing network of nicknames, random names, associated words then translated into Chamorro. I'm listing them below, in part because I'm getting a new cell phone and so I'm worried that all of my contacts will get erased in the transition.

If you know me and know you're on my cellphone, scroll down and see if you can find out which name you are. Some are easy, merely common Chamorro nicknames such as "Bina" or "Pepe." Others are the results of multiple translations. For instance finayi is Chamorro for "wisdom" and the person who has this number, in her language her name means "wisdom." Oh and a couple are just people's middle names.

Akagueiatdao – Chamorro for “left of the sun”
Alåhas – Chamorro for “jewelry”
Asuka - A character from Evangelion
Benny – Nickname for Benedict Anderson

Bobby – A famous Bollywood movie
Bosa – Chamorro word for “voice”
ChamoruTimes – A Chamorro newspaper from Seattle
Chådapa’ka – Chamorro for “white chåd”
Eevee – One of my favorite Pokemon
Famfamiliayan – Chamorro for “the place of family”
Fangguahanan – Chamorro for "the Guam place"
Fegurgur – A Chamorro last name
Finayi – Chamorro for “wisdom”
Gachong – Chamorro for “friend, companion”
GALAIDE – A Chamorro canoe
Gaseta – Chamorro for “newspaper”
Ga’mumu – Chamorro for “someone who likes to fight”
Gimå-hu – Chamorro for “my house”
Gima’Jack – Chamorro for “Jack’s house”
Guahu – Chamorro for “me”
Hagaschechohu – Chamorro for “my old work”
Kayu – Chamorro for “someone with the same name”
Kilu’us – Chamorro for “cross”
Klingon - A race from Star Trek
Korason – Chamorro for “heart”
Ladrone – Spanish for “thief”
Maga’haga – Chamorro for “eldest daughter of a clan”
Ma’lak – Chamorro for “bright”
Mañainå-hu – Chamorro for “my parents or my elders”
Mañainaneevees - Chamorro for "Eve's parents"
Mew2 - A powerful psychic Pokemon
Minagof – Chamorro for “happiness”
Mumu – Chamorro for “fight”
Nanå-hu – Chamorro for “my mother”
Nananjulian - Chamorro for "Julian's mom"
Nenkanno – Chamorro for “food”
Palao’an – Chamorro for “woman”
Pilan – Chamorro for “moon”
Ponyta – A fire horse Pokemon
Prim - Chamorro for "cousin"
Rodamus – Character from Battle for Kamchatka
Sasahara – Character from Genshiken
Tale’ – Chamorro for “string”
Tatå-hu – Chamorro for “my father”
Tinalo – Chamorro for “middle, Center”

Friday, November 17, 2006

UCLA Student Tasered Repeatedly in the Library

After you read and watch the video below, please sign this petition to ban the use of tasers on UC campuses.


(video) UCPD Shoots at UCLA Student Inside the Powell Lib.
By Nestor Section: Diaries

Posted on Wed Nov 15, 2006 at 04:50:55 PM EST

UPDATE: Here is the video via KNBC. Amazing and surreal. I could never imagine this happening in the library while I was a student.This is an amazing story.

From the Daily Bruin (emphasis mine throughout):

UCPD officers shot a student several times with a Taser inside the Powell Library CLICC computer lab late Tuesday night before taking him into custody.

No university police officers were available to comment further about the incident as of 3 a.m. Wednesday, and no Community Service Officers who were on duty at the time could be reached.
At around 11:30 p.m., CSOs asked a male student using a computer in the back of the room to leave when he was unable to produce a BruinCard during a random check. The student did not exit the building immediately.

The CSOs left, returning minutes later, and police officers arrived to escort the student out. By this time the student had begun to walk toward the door with his backpack when an officer approached him and grabbed his arm, at which point the student told the officer to let him go. A second officer then approached the student as well.

The student began to yell "get off me," repeating himself several times.

It was at this point that the officers shot the student with a Taser for the first time, causing him to fall to the floor and cry out in pain. The student also told the officers he had a medical condition.

First of all I cannot imagine being shot at by UCPD inside Powell Library. And then you have shooting at someone who had already said he had a "medical condition"?

Check out some of disturbing quotes from students who were reportedly at the scene:
"It was the most disgusting and vile act I had ever seen in my life," said David Remesnitsky, a 2006 UCLA alumnus who witnessed the incident.

As the student and the officers were struggling, bystanders repeatedly asked the police officers to stop, and at one point officers told the gathered crowd to stand back and threatened to use a Taser on anyone who got too close.

And this:

Laila Gordy, a fourth-year economics student who was present in the library during the incident, said police officers threatened to shoot her with a Taser when she asked an officer for his name and his badge number.

Gordy was visibly upset by the incident and said other students were also disturbed.

"It's a shock that something like this can happen at UCLA," she said. "It was unnecessary what they did."

Holy crap. What is going on here? FWIW here is UCPD's side of the story reported in the DB article:

As the student was screaming, UCPD officers repeatedly told him to stand up and said "stop fighting us." The student did not stand up as the officers requested and they shot him with the Taser at least once more.

It'd be interesting to see if someone has a video of this incident up on YouTube. Apparently per DB's report a student's camera phone may have recorded the incident. I sure hope someone gets a hold of that video.

At least based on the report the UCPD doesn't come off looking very good. Shooting taser gun at our students inside the Powell Library? That is insane

What is even more disturbing is some of the reactions I read on message boards in which some posters were outright gleeful about UCLA students being shot up on campus.

If any students are reading BN, please let us know what is going on around campus. This just sounds crazy. There better be a good explanation on the part of UCPD.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Act of Decolonization #3: The Grassroots

Today's act of decolonization is simple and inspired by the recent election season, vote for a grassroots candidate.

If you look at the breakdown of the most recent legislature in Guam, none of the candidates which could be considered "grassroots" were elected and there were several of them running. Although the term "grassroots" could have a number of meanings, when I am using it here, I am either referring to those with little to no money for a campaign, yet nonetheless run, those who are often too radical to be considered as viable candidates, and those who are considered to be outside of the political/governmental/economic networks on Guam. When I say "outside" I don't mean someone who has never worked for GovGuam, never owned a business and never spoken to another human being before in his or her life, but rather someone who is not under the wing of political leaders, or have either a commercial or political (governmental) network set in place to either get them elected or get them the necessary name recognition.

Directors of very visible government agencies were elected, as were people who are very much part of the power structure in Guam, not just as a recipient or beneficiary, but as a mover and shaker lokkue. Several years ago a cadre of Democratic Senators under the wing of Carl Guitterez were elected (and the majority of them thrown out in the next election), yet those who came out full force for I Semnak this time had no chance whatsoever. The reasoning being this contrast has to do many of that Democratic group being hardly grassroots, but comprised of several GovGuam directors and Carl Guitterez's lawyer. Furthermore, there were whispers that the only reasons that this group was elected at all was part of a deal that I Semnak made with Camacho's camp.

This time however, a number of hardcore Somnak supporters were not elected, but precisely because they are too radical to be considered as "real" candidates, not really part of the power structure (to either get votes or or have name recognition) just did not have very much money.

While we can attribute the fact that none of these people won to very practical concerns about them not having the name recognition, them not having the resources or the ground crew, the fact that no grassroots candidate was elected is indicative of the changing political climate on Guam. The elections on Guam are a mixture of local and national politics. We elect our senators at-large, along with the Governor, creating the impression of a national political level, despite the fact that Guam is small enough for all politics to feel local.

I have written about some aspects of what I will touch on before, most specifically my discussion of Felix Camacho as "empty and untalented," and that being one of the reasons why he was first elected Governor in 2002. In this most recent election, we saw Guam's voter turnout drop slightly in terms of both total number of registered voters, people who actually voted. This drop in voter turnout is hardly a surprise however, since that tends to be the course for modern democracies.

Although there are a number of ways that we can conceive of society politically, for my purposes today lets simplify it to a distinction between antagonism and agonism. When the political world is structured through antagonism, then we have relatively defined camps or groups, which define itself against each other, and compete and attack each other. After World War II politics on Guam could be described as this, with two parties, one (the Popular later the Democrats) larger than the other (Territorial later the Republicans) which for the most part divided up the island's population between them and instead of focusing their efforts on snatching up the any remaining loose voters, would instead focus their efforts on defaming and sasangan baba against the rival party. In this sense, the efforts of parties were primarily defense or conservation of consciousness. Work hard to keep the party energized and motivated and eager to defeat the other side. Conversion or recruitment was generally not part of the picture, instead you would win by maintaining the unity of your side and through gestures proving that your side was bigger and more likely to win.

Within an antagonistic political framework things get very bitter, very rough and very negative. Your rival party is in a sense your enemy and therefore worth obliterating.

Under agonism however, competition and rivalry is understood as regulated. The opposing party is not really your enemy, since there is a principle which transcends your antagonism, blunting it and making it frankly, less antagonistic. Rather then see yourselves as politically being fundamentally different, you think of yourselves as being fundamentally the same. We all know the principles that produce agonism, they are considered to be politically untouchable. Positions or truths/false truths which all parties accept as the basis for being able to speak and not being rejected from political discourse as a radical or malcontent.

Just before the election last week, John Kerry was accused of violating these sacred cows when he made his infamous (but now perhaps forgotten (fuera di Si Sean Hannity) statement about our brave troops getting "stuck in Iraq." The Republican rapid/rabid responses were naturally that Kerry had defiled a point which dictates the limits of political struggles, debate and fighting, meaning he had spoken ill of "the troops." Although Democrats and Republicans may fight like cats and dogs, they are always to remain unified standing behind those in uniform.

One could of course argue, that in politics in the United States, Republicans under the Delay/Gingrich style of adversarial rhetoric treat Democrats as the enemy which must be banished and vanquished, while Democrats basically seem to accept that everybody is on the same side and therefore don't demonize or destroy their opponents. It's interesting to consider how much press was generated the past few weeks over the prospect of a partisan Pelosi style dominating the Democratic party, and whether or not a similar amount of fear of tyranny was produced when either Delay or Gingrich took over. (Is this difference of antagonistic and agonistic therefore structural?) (this also connects to the tactic this past election where the Republicans would concentrate primarily on getting out their base, and not trying to court new voters)

What happens under agonism is what we see today in both Guam and the United States where the majority of the people who can vote, don't belong to either of the "viable" political parties and in the case of the United States tend not to vote. If the political is governed by antagonism, political control is the prize of the battle and so lines are drawn and the ideal state is to be on one side of those lines, never struck straddling them. In agonism however, the majority of people intentionally stand atrside those lines, refusing to choose sides, not seeing the importance or value in doing so, and actually building their identity primarily on a distance from both politics and the political.

So who becomes the hero, or the main event of politics in a modern democracy? As seen in this too insightful comic by Tom Tomorrow, it is the undecided voter who holds the fate of politics in the United States in his or her decision, yet whose identity is built on not knowing anything about politics.

As I just said, the identities of these undecided voters are dependent upon a distance from politics and politicians. On Guam for example, undecided voters generations ago were mainly those outside of the Chamorro clan networks, so Filipinos, apa'ka siha and Micronesians. As Guam has changed, both in composition and then just population, more and more people, and many Chamorros now occupy this "outside" of politics in Guam. One way that we can see this is in the discourse on hard-working private sector workers and management vs. gagu yan taisetbe na GovGuam worker. Against the GovGuam worker who is lazy, useless, gets everything from doing nothing but being a member of a particular Chamorro family (and being part of "politics" in Guam), the low wage worker, the small business owner and the elite Guam Chamber of Commerce business man all form their identities as industrious, masculine and hardworking by virtue of their being outside this blessed political safety net. If these people knew politics and were somehow part of politics on Guam, this independence, this identity becomes threatened.

Political action and struggle when this is existence of the majority of any population is pretty poor. I found a funny example of this on the first episode of the second season of Chappelle Show. Dave Chappelle opens his show while smoking a cigarette, something which was recently made illegal indoors in New York City. Chappelle decides to smoke during his monologue to show how he is fighting back, and then shows a sketch about how this sort of "fighting" is in his family's history.

Here's the breakdown of the sketch:

New York City (in response to the anti-smoking laws)
Damn, Bloomberg is f**king up...

Washington D.C. (in response to the gas crisis)
Man, Carter is f**king up....

Chicago (in response to the US dropping atomic bombs on Japan)
Damn, Truman is f**king up...

1863 (in response to slavery)
South Carolina
Young slave:Man, Lincoln is f**king up!
Old Slave: Son! White folks in general are f**king up, sshhh, they coming...


Africa (in response to competition between chiefs)
man, the chief is f**king up, hey yal its a boat with some white people on it, you all wait here, I'm gonna see what they want...

Two weeks later
Atlantic Ocean
man, I f**ked up!

In Guam for instance, the prototypical form of political critique and action is basically corruption discourse, or the recognition of the fact that "politicians" are corrupt. In the hilarious Chappelle Show sketch, we see the equation of political action and resistance with merely noticing that politicians are corrupt. The miracle quality of the undecided voter breaking the chains of their own passivity and defying all expectations and braving the streets of the political world to vote, is sort of mirrored in these statements. There is supposed to be this very poignant heroic quality in saying the obvious that someone in power is "f**king up."

The process of selecting candidates in this framework is why grassroots candidates are nearly impossibly to elect in Guam today. A generation ago, the majority of people on Guam would have some sort of family, clan or party obligation to vote for particular candidates, or at least some concrete measure which they would feel they had to resist. The operations of the government were much closer to the voting public, for a number of reasons, but at the very minimum, you would be able to derive knowledge of the government in both positive and negative terms because there was a clear relationship between those in power, those working to get into power or even just those working in government.

The distancing of the public from politics on Guam, combined with both new media technologies and the heavy reliance of political campaigns nowadays means not simply that presence in the media will dictate who people will vote for, but that particularly simple ways that people appear regularly in the media will dictate how people vote.

Take for instance, this other Tom Tomorrow comic, made right after the 2004 Presidential election:

The undecided voter's final lines are very telling of the limits of his politics. For this voter, it is the appearance of John Kerry as "french" a soundbyte he heard somewhere along the way, and then the nail in the coffin "and stuff" to seal the deal on the inability of the undecided voter to make a decision. The reduction of both the political process and his own participation in the process to mere "stuff" indicates the insurmountable ambivalence, the sheer inability to commit for fear that I will become implicated in the thing I loathe and distance myself from to produce myself.

So, the resistance therefore boils down to this compromise, as an undecided voter who possesses this nervous identity, what can I know about politics, what can I say about politics, which doesn't make me political.

Although much complaining about political campaigning and fina'baba' takes promises as the things which entices voters, it is truly appearances, since appearances require basically no engagement whatsoever. Let's take for instance the difference between Sedfrey Linsangan's signs and Ray Tenorio's signs. Both make promises in their signs. Sedfrey's huge clip-art dependent signs make promises to increase jobs, fix the economy and provide funds for certain things such as education and so on. Ray Tenorio's infamous signs look like either prayer cards or playing cards, with his head dominating most of the space, and any words (most notably "no empty promises, just hard work" necessary but marginal.

While both signs, because of the very form cannot provide much in the way of content, they are nonetheless distinguishable because of how concrete they are in these promises. Both are empty, but while Sedfrey's attaches itself to very real objects (which are nontheless very abstract, such as education, economy, etc.), Tenorio's is reduced to an almost sublime appearance. It reaches the point which is ideal for an undecided voter who is looking for the appearance of reason.

As I wrote several days ago, I am to the core a cultural nationalist. This means that I go throughout life constantly searching for ways that Guam and Chamorros are better than our colonizer. This gesture is one of the most basic in the work of decolonization, and the defining and realizing a better world.

Most cultural nationalists will engage with this rhetoric in fairly obvious ways, accepting the divisions that the colonizer places upon the colonized, and then showing how, in the world that we have been given by them, we are far better than they are! In the films Cry Freedom and Swades, but also the text The Nations and Its Fragments by Partha Chatterjee we see this assertion through the sphere of family. That although the colonizer may have suceeded in so many ways of life and achieved great progress, he has not touched or he has lost the cultural, the political and the family. I could engage with the reasons why I agree with this and also vehemently disagree with this, but will instead just say that I am always looking for "unexpected" ways that we on Guam are better than our "mother country."

As Guam becomes a modern democracy, it is important that we do not go the route of the United States and descend into democratic apathy with no real political choices and no political will. That is why for those wishing to do the work of decolonizing in their daily lives, please during the next election(s), vote for one of the candidates who appears to be radically outside the mainstream. Vote for someone whom you may find too complicated, too unknown, too new, too old, too ugly. Vote for someone in such a way that the lure of proper or likeable appearance breaks down and you engage with something concrete beyond simple personal preference. Although nowadays, the actions of Angel Santos are sort of at least publicly stomached and accepted by the majority of people on Guam. But when he ran for senator and won, it was not because he was a part of the power structure on Guam, or because he was gefsaga', but rather because a significant amount of Chamorros and other ethnic groups on Guam actually felt his message, and so a commitment to human rights beyond the racist rhetoric which was used to neutralize him.

The other day my ex girlfriend told me about how her parents were speaking of Angel Santos. Her parents are not Chamorro, but immigrants to Guam, meaning they are part of the population on Guam who tend to think of Angel Santos and people like him as racist and evil, yet when they spoke of Santos, they did so with a sort of admiration for him as a defender of his people, someone who did not back down or play politics and someone who definitely felt like a common man. As Guam becomes more and more of a detatched modern democracy, meaning that people are finding more and more creative and useless ways to stay outside of politics or political action, it is vital not just in terms of making democracy work in Guam, but in terms of decolonizing the island, that we seek more concrete ways of connecting people to politics on Guam, beyond simply voting, beyond simply saying politicians are corrupt.

Grassroots candidates are those who, in a way, offer such connections. Their messages are often rough, not the most marketable, not as polished as the more dominant candidates, but in doing so they provide us ways of linking ourselves, our knowledge, our beliefs, our identities to the political world, which can help us break the distance which we depend on, and therefore truly help change our island, help determine its future.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Si Yu'us Ma'ase Amerika!

On behalf of Guam, and all of us semi-, pseudo- or reluctant- Americans that call it home, I want to say too, Si Yu'us Ma'ase Amerika! Mungga mabomba pat mana'mabomba ham ta'lo put fabot!

Published on Thursday, November 9, 2006
by the Guardian / UK
Thank You, America

For six years, latterly with the backing of both houses of a markedly conservative Republican Congress, George Bush has led an American administration that has played an unprecedentedly negative and polarising role in the world's affairs. On Tuesday, in the midterm US congressional elections, American voters rebuffed Mr Bush in spectacular style and with both instant and lasting political consequences. By large numbers and across almost every state of the union, the voters defeated Republican candidates and put the opposition Democrats back in charge of the House of Representatives for the first time in a dozen years.

When the remaining recounts and legal challenges are over, the Democrats may even have narrowly won control of the Senate too. Either way, the results change the political landscape in Washington for the final two years of this now thankfully diminished presidency. They also reassert a different and better United States that can again offer hope instead of despair to the world. Donald Rumsfeld's resignation last night was a fitting climax to the voters' verdict. Thank you, America.

In US domestic terms, the 2006 midterms bring to an end the 12 intensely divisive years of Republican House rule that began under Newt Gingrich in 1994. These have been years of zealously and confrontational conservative politics that have shocked the world and, under Mr Bush, have sent America's global standing plummeting. That long political hurricane has now at last blown itself out for a while, but not before leaving America with a terrible legacy that includes climate-change denial, the end of biological stem-cell research, an aid programme tied to abortion bans, a shockingly permissive gun culture, an embrace of capital punishment equalled only by some of the world's worst tyrannies, the impeachment of Bill Clinton and his replacement by a president who does not believe in Darwin's theory of evolution. The approval by voters in at least five more states of same-sex marriage bans - on top of 13 similar votes in 2004 - shows that culture-war politics are far from over.

Exit polls suggest that four issues counted most in these elections - corruption scandals, the economy, terrorism and Iraq. In the end, though, it was the continuing failure of the war in Iraq that has galvanised many Americans to do what much of the rest of the world had longed for them to do much earlier. It is too soon to say whether 2006 now marks a decisive rejection of the rest of the conservative agenda as well. Only those who do not know America well will imagine that it does.

The Democratic victory was very tight in many places, but its size should not be underestimated. November 7 was a decisive nationwide win for the progressive and moderate traditions in US political life. The final majority in the House will be at least 18. The recapture of the Senate, if it happens, will involve captures from the Republicans in the north-east, the north-west, the midwest and the south. The Democrats won seven new state governorships on Tuesday, including New York and Ohio, and now control a majority nationwide. Republican governors who held on, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and Charlie Crist in Florida, only did so by distancing themselves from Mr Bush. The statewide Democratic wins in Ohio give their 2008 presidential candidate a platform for doing what John Kerry failed to do in this crucial state in 2004.

Claire McCaskill's win in the Missouri Senate race showed that Democrats can win a state which almost always votes for the winning presidential candidate. If Jim Webb has won the recounting Virginia Senate seat, Democrats will have gone another step towards re-establishing themselves in a changing part of the south. In almost every one of these cases, as in the Connecticut contest won by Joe Lieberman running as an independent, the Democrats have won by cleaving to the centre and winning the support of independent voters. The new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be the Armani-clad San Francisco leftwinger of the caricaturists' dreams but she heads a caucus that will demand caution on some of the baby-boomer liberal generation's pet subjects.

The big questions under the new Congress will be the way that Mr Bush responds to this unfamiliar reduction in his authority and whether the Democratic win will push the president into a new Iraq policy. At his White House press conference yesterday, Mr Bush inevitably made plenty of suitably bipartisan and common-ground noises. He had little alternative. But they rang hollow from such a tarnished and partisan leader. It will take more than warm words in the immediate aftermath of an election reverse to prove that Mr Bush is now capable of working in a new way.

The departure of the disastrous Mr Rumsfeld has come at least three years too late. But it shows that Mr Bush has finally been forced to face the reality of the Iraq disaster for which his defence secretary bears so much responsibility. As the smoke rose over the Pentagon on 9/11, Mr Rumsfeld was already writing a memo that wrongly pointed the finger at Saddam Hussein. He more than anyone beat the drum for the long-held neoconservative obsession with invading Iraq. It was he who insisted, over the advice of all his senior generals, that the invasion required only a third of the forces that the military said they needed. He more than anyone else is the architect of America's humiliations in Iraq. It was truly an outrage that he remained in office for so long.

But at least the passing of Mr Rumsfeld shows that someone in the White House now recognises that things cannot go on as before. Business as usual will not do, either in general or over Iraq. Mr Bush's remarks last night showed that on Iraq he has now put himself in the hands of the Iraq Study Group, chaired by his father's consigliere James Baker, one of whose members, Robert Gates, an ex-CIA chief, was last night appointed to succeed the unlamented Mr Rumsfeld. Maybe the more pragmatic Republican old guard can come to the rescue of this disastrous presidency in its most catastrophic adventure. But it has been the American voters who have at last made this possible. For that alone the entire world owes them its deep gratitude today.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2006


Friday, November 10, 2006

Life in the Colonies...

Life in the colonies, means living in a world full of gross contradictions and frightening choices.

Ha na’triste yu’, na ti meggaiña i ma botåyi Si Underwood kinu i taotao Camacho. Lao nai hu hasso i lai, na debi di un risibi 50 + 1% gi todu i bota siha, para un fanggana’, hinasso-ku na buente guaguaha ha’ chånsa!

But then I received the email below and the frightening choice emerges. The result of the election, whether Camacho wins now or whether there will be a run-off election depends upon which law is primary on Guam, local law or Federal US law.

For Camacho, he is of the class where what makes Guam Guam is the United States. He does not simply accept the sovereignty of the United States, but celebrates this point. The consciousness of Camacho is a normal one on Guam, which I wrote of several weeks ago through the K.C. Leon Guerrero song Guam U.S.A.Felix Camacho basically does not negotiate with the United States, but makes a big show of doing whatever they want, and not even giving the appearance of Guam's interests being his primary concern. Because Felix ignores the colonial gap between Guam and its "mother country" whatever the Feds want is fine with him, because we basically belong to them, and so they must have our interest at heart when they act. The interests of the United States therefore become more than our own, more than Guam's.

For Underwood, he unlike Camacho, has a history, a list of stances, statements and positions which span decades on Guam. Prior to serving as Guam's non-voting lobbyist to the United States Congress, Underwood regularly criticized the sovereignty of the United States over Guam, revealing the colonial character of its rule over Guam, and calling into question our "liberation." Since serving in Congress, Underwood has softened and centered his positions, but is still willing to say that given Guam's strategic position and how "patriotic" this island is to the United States, we get very little in this colonial compact, while the United States gets bula'la'la'.

On the despite of local law versus Federal law the difference here might appear to be simple. For Camacho, it would be the Fed's rules which would be primary, and his administration has constantly proven this point, in agencies such as the Chamorro Land Trust, which have often remained inactive or ineffective because of fear over whether their existence or actions are unconstitutional.

For Underwood, the local laws would seem to be primary, since the authority of United States over Guam is either illegitimate, colonial or unfortunate. The Federal Government creates laws and bills which impact Guam, but over which Guam has no direct, even symbolic power. The fact that despite being a member of the US Congress, Underwood still attended United Nation's meeting to both support and testify in the struggle for decolonization, in a way proves that the relationship between Guam and the United States is far from fair or equal, but that there is still much to be done.

But in this election we find these roles reversed. Despite the fact that when it comes to Chamorro issues the rule of the Feds must be observed, in this election Camacho now seems to think that local laws should supersede Federal laws. The reasoning being of course that if we follow local laws, then Camacho has already won the election (despite the suspicious circumstances surrounding the counting of the ballots). Moving onto Underwood, perhaps twenty years ago Underwood would have argued for the legitimacy of local laws, in this instance if we observe Federal law specifically the right of the US Congress to determine our political existence, then there will be a run off election since neither candidate got the requisite 50+1% of the votes.

The contradictions therefore leave me with a frightening choice. To support my candidate for the Governor of Guam means I have to support the Organic Act, a document I loathe because it is what is constantly invoked by all on Guam to disprove colonization, whether continuing or historical. For historical the Organic Act seems to prove the eventual equality argument, that although it took a while and doesn't really amount to actual equality, we were always on a path to being equal Americans. In disproving colonization today, the argument follows that while the Organic Act is far from a real constitution or assertion of sovereignty or political existence (save as an effect of America), by providing limit "home rule" it represents a clear break with the colonialism of the Navy prior to 1950, and also a fix to the ambiguous political status of Chamorros before, during and immediately after World War II.

The quandry doesn't last long however, because I know that Felix Camacho is a poor governor of Guam and in the way he and many of his supporters ran their campaign (puru ha' chinatli'e yan sinangan racist) he should not at all be governor again, so if it means accepting in this instance the sovereignty of the United States in order to give Underwood another chance, I wholeheartedly accept.

Ya para hamyo, ni' pau kehåyi yu' put este, tungo’ ha’ este. Yanggen Si Guitterez i gayun-miyu, sa’ hinasson-mimiyu na puru ha’ grassroots gui’ ya para Guahan ha’. Taitai hafa ilek-ña nu i militat pat i Feds. Ti anggokuyon gui’ mampos, esta ha ofresi siha todu Guahan an ya-ñiha. Pau bende siempre i islå-ta taihumasso. Ya yanggen en sipopotte Si Camacho, annok esta na esta ha kumekebende Guahan nu i militat yan i Feds.


News from the GUAM Team Campaign
November 10, 2006
Contact- 477.8206


Anigua- Congressman Robert Underwood, Senator Frank Aguon was joined today in a show of UNITY to follow the law of land, the Organic Act of Guam, by Governor Carl Gutierrez, Senator BJ Cruz, Senator Francis Santos, and all the elected Democratic Senators. Yesterday, the GEC ruled to exclude over 500 votes cast in its recommendation regarding the November 7 Election.

“We are very concerned that this exclusion has effectively stifled the voice of these voters, and will be filing a case to overturn this decision, “ said Congressman Robert Underwood.

He continued, “Guam is proud of its rich heritage as a democracy. Central to that is its deep and abiding faith in the rule of law. We believe strongly that the Organic Act takes precedence over local law and clearly calls for a run-off election in the absence of a 50% +1 majority.”

Governor Carl Gutierrez and Senator Aguon reminded people that the issue regarding overvotes was made clear when Felix Camacho himself fought this in the Supreme Court and pushed for overvotes to be counted.

Next week, the U/A will be filing a case to ensure that all of our voters’ voices are heard. Led by our DREAM TEAM of legal experts: Judge BJ Cruz, Mike Phillips, Jay Arriola, Howard Trapp, John Terlaje, Jonathan Quan, and Mylene Lopez, the U/A Team will move forward in upholding our electoral rights.

The U/A Team will continue to talk to the people of Guam about the importance of our Democracy, and the continuing need for CHANGE- CHANGE in our political climate and most importantly, CHANGE for the betterment of all the people of Guam.

Leadership for CHANGE is more than a campaign slogan, it’s a movement. Our people desire new leadership. This is about GOOD and OPEN government.

The U/A, Sunshine, and Team Spirit supporters came en masse to support our candidates. Joined by Governor Carl Gutierrez, Senator BJ Cruz, and Senator Francis Santos, a united Democratic Team asks that the law be upheld.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Famoksaiyan IV Schedule

Estague i mas pa'go na infotmasion put i dinana Famoksaiyan gi i mamaila na simana.

Yanggen malago hao sumaonao, na'tungo' yu' gi email.

Tentative Schedule
Diñanan Famoksaiyan VI
Southern California

Where: Guam Communications Network
4201 Long Beach Blvd. Suite 218
Long Beach, CA 90807

When: November 19, 2006
10 am – 5 pm

10:00 – 10:30: Tiempon Hafa Adai yan Mañanan Si Yu’us!

10:30 – 11:00: Famoksaiyan update
How Famoksaiyan started, what has happened since April 2006 and the first conference. Where is it headed.

11:00 – 12:00: United Nations report back
A report back on the recent trip Famoksaiyan members participated in to the United Nations in New York. It will cover where Guam is at as a colony, what role the United States and the United Nations have in keeping it as such, and what power they have in changing that.

12:00 – 1:00: Na’talo’ani
Food provided by the family of Josette Lujan Quinata

1:00 – 2:00: Lepblon Famoksaiyan
An update on the Famoksaiyan book, and what will be in it. A call for consciousness articles on the experiences and dreams of young Chamorros from the islands and the states.

2:00 – 3:00: Chamorros and the militaryA review of the historical and statistical relationship between Chamorros and the United States military. What the military has done for Guam, meaning both good and bad. This will be followed by a discussion about what Chamorros in the states can do to help ensure that the relationship between the people of Guam and the military is one of partnership and equality.

3:00 – 4:00: Language and Culture
A conversation about what we can do to revitalize and promote Chamorro language and culture, with the hopes of creating some concrete plans and groups.

4:00 – 5:00: Sustaining/Funding Famoksaiyan
A discussion about how Famoksaiyan can operate, can work, can sustain itself, and what its organization should or can be.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bota Bota Guam and Rota

Its election time in Guam. I originally intended to post either the list of my favorite candidates this year, or at least a discussion about all the stupid "Underwood is a racist" discussions that are circulating Guam. I recently stumbled across a website which is guaguahi i guafi, dedicated specifically to saying anything negative about Underwood.

Lao gof matuhok yu', pues bai chagi agupa'. Lao para pa'go bei fa'nu'i hamyo este ne pinente-ku, na hu ayek put i espiritun este na ha'ani.

The painting to the left was supposed to be part of a show I had several years ago at the Two Lover's Point/CAHA/KAHA Gallery in Tumon. For those who don't recognize the figure through the expressive lines and drips, its supposed to be Antonio Borja Won Pat, former Assemblyman, Senator, Speaker of the Guam Legislature, and Non-Voting Delegate to the United States Congress. His daughter Judi Won Pat is running this election.


I broke down and decided, even though its late and on Guam the election is already happening, but out of principle to name those who I feel should win and some of the various reasons why.

Robert Underwood

Jesse Anderson Lujan (JAL)
Gof ya-hu i sinangan-ña yan tinige’-ña Si JAL, sa’ ti ma’a’ñao para u sångan i minagahet put i bida i Amerikånu siha. Yanggen colonialism, mungga mapuni, sångan ha’.
Jose Chargualaf (Mr. C)
Maolek gui’ sa’ mumumu gui’ kontra i nina’privatize-ñiha i hanom yan port Guahan.
Ben Pangelinan
Angela Santos
Che’lun i difunton Anghet Leon Guerrero Santos. Guiya i mas hoben ni’ malalågo, pues bula hinasso-ñiñiha na guiya rumepresesenta i manhoben.
Judi Won Pat
Trini Torres
Ha gof hongge put i impottanten-ñiha self-determination yan decolonization.
Jose Terlaje (Pedo)
(Estaba i ga’chong Anghet Santos, nai mumalågo i dos para Maga’låhi yan Segundo Maga’låhi)
Dave Dueñas
(Mangge na taotao, sa’ kada na sakkan ha volunteer maisa gui’ gi KGTF, para iyon-ñiha telethon).


As an ethnic nationalist, I am always searching for reasons that Guam is better than our colonizer. While most people resort to the traditional "family" examples, which stay away from very concrete political comparisions, I enjoy trumping the colonizer in the realms that he alone is supposed to know and control.

For instance, despite the back that Guam doesn't get to vote in Congress or for President of the United States Guam's voter turnout is incredibly high. It is interesting how often people from the United States gripe about how people in places such as Guam need to be instructed in the proper civics of modern politics, when the majority of the people who can participate in political processes in the US, do not participate. (as Guam becomes more and more like a limp liberal democracy, than this level of participation will decline, because the effect of this sort of political shift is that people become more and more divorced from the political process. We can already see this happening, in that a grassroots candidate nowadays has basically no change of winning a spot in the legislature, because what makes the difference is name recognition in publicly neutral way (put hemplo, atan ha' i masangan-na Ray Tenorio "No Empty Promises, Just Hard Work.")

(In the PDN piece this morning we are informed that today all on Guam will be exercising a constitutional right today, which considering Guam's ambiguous political relationship to the United States, and that fact that we on Guam have rights through Congress not the US Constitutions, makes the PDN seem even more ignorantly colonizing than usual. Here again we can see that institutions such as the PDN serve two basic purposes in Guam. The First is to dictate and define what is America and American in Guam, which gives everyone on Guam lessons in how to be more Americans. Second, is to provide things which overcome the colonial distance/difference in Guam, by making us feel more American, but to certain limits. As I wrote several weeks ago, the PDN publishes fairly regularly positive letters to the editor from military families on Guam, in order to cover up and dispel so much of the anxiety that exists on Guam between civiliains and servicepeople. Here we can see the PDN asserting the importance of voting through the Constitution in order to make Guam feel like its just like anywhere else in the United States.)

One thing that us on Guam can be proud of is that despite all of the problems plaguing electronic voting machines across the United states, Guam is one of the few regions which is actually acting on these problems, and so electronic voting machines will not be used in Guam for this election. The Governor made it official a few days ago when he prohibited the use of them.

Of course, us being on the cutting edge creates its own inatan baba. Take for example this thread from the message board for Democratic Underground. Over the past few months, Democrats, Leftists and election reform activists throughout the US have been working to get the message out about the problems with electronic voting. Few however have been able to actually get anything changed. Although this is the type of reformist response everyone wants, few people take notice when it happens on Guam, and so only a small exchange ensues on the board.

Taotao Unu: If only America would follow Guam's example nm

Taotao Dos: In this instance yes. But this is a miracle for Guam imo. Very shady politics usually prevail there.

Taotao Unu: Well if they can figure it out...we should certainly be able to.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Stuck in Iraq

Ti bei fandagi hamyo, gi fine’nina nai hu hungok i sinangan as John Kerry put ineskuela (edukashon) yan i mañsindålu, hinasso-ku “whoa! Put fin måtto i minagahet!”

“Siha ni’ taiineskuela siempre mañatsaga’ giya Iraq”

Hu konfotme este, lao ti put i rason na todu i taotao gi i media ma ripipiti. Si Kerry ha sasångan båba put i manmumumu na sindålu giya Iraq.

Ti kumekeilek-ña este na “Siha ni’ mambrodie mañatsaga’ giya Iraq” but instead, ha na’hahasso hit put un gof bihu na estoria, na siha ni’ manggefsaga’ taya nai mañenglong siha gi gera taiguihi i mamopble. Para i manriku ti mappot para u ma suhayi gumegera. Gi i Revolutionary War yan i Civil War gi i states, yanggen ti malago i riku na taotao sumaonao, siña ha apasi i gubetnamento para u suhayi. Gi i geran Vietnam an ti ya-mu humanao yan gumera, ya guaha pulitikat gi entre i atungo’ siha i familia-mu, siempre un pepble na taotao u tahgue hao, ya gumerayi hao. Atan put hemplo i suette-ña Si George W. Bush.

Ti hu kekedifende Si Kerry, sa’ este yu’ nina’gof desganao put i matulaikå-ña siha. Para i sinente-ku nu Si Kerry yan nu Si Underwood. Hu gof guiaiya hafa ma sångan nai hobenña siha, gi i 1970’s kontra i geran Vietnam yan put i direchon i taotao Chamoru. Lao pa’go na tiempo, gi fino’ Ingles “humanao i dos para i tinalo’”

Achokka’ ti bei difende Si Kerry, bai hu difende i minagahet i sinangan-ña. Para i manriku, i inayek gi entre i militat pat kolehu, inayek ha’, siha la’mon. Lao para i ti manriku, taya’ inayek. Yanggen malago hao humalom gi kolehu, pat kumahulo’ gi lina’la’, fanhalom gi militat sa’ ayugue ha’ i chalan-mu.

Gof taitai hafa hu tutuge’. Ti hu kekesångan na taya’ patriotism i mamopble, ma saonao i militat put kosas ekonomik ha’. Patriotism isn’t even an issue here, the point is access, money and who is compelled to serve by economic interests and who can chose to serve if they want to. Håyi gaiaccess para kolehu, ya håyi taiaccess? Bai hu na’chetton gi este na post, un gof impottante na tinige’ put este na “scandal.” Estague un patte, ni’ gof na’ma’a’ñao:

…the percentage of enlisted military personnel from households with more than $60,000 in annual income is close to zero. Military recruiters don't even both to recruit in affluent neighborhoods: They know no one's going to sign up. At elite universities — Harvard, Stanford and Yale, for instance — the percentage of graduates who enter the military is minuscule.

Mungga machagi muna’put “patriotism” este. Conservative na pulitiko Si Kerry, ya gof hassan i biahi na ha hahasso put i mamopble siha. Siempre ti ha hasngon sumångan båba put i sindålu siha, sa' ayugue pinino' maisa pulitikat! Lao sinembatgo gi este na aksidente humuyong i minagahet, olaha mohon ma atan ya rikonosi este! Lao diapblo
because rather than focusing on the truth, people just deny economic disparities and inequities and assert that the only reason that anyone gets into the military is because of patriotism.


Published on Friday, November 3, 2006 by the Los Angeles Times
Was Kerry Right?
The military isn't full of poor, uneducated kids, but it doesn't look anything like America.
by Rosa Brooks

Since John Kerry "botched" a joke and implied that those without education "get stuck in Iraq," political leaders from both parties have been piously describing U.S. troops as valiant young Einsteins in desert camouflage. But deep down, a lot of them probably think Kerry is right.

If those grunts were half as smart as members of Congress, they'd be on Capitol Hill getting sucked up to by lobbyists instead of sucking up dust in Baghdad's bloody alleys — right?

Most of our current political leaders didn't waste any time serving in the military. Like Vice President Dick Cheney, they had "other priorities." As recently as 1994, 44% of members of Congress were veterans. Today, it's only 26%. And despite the mandatory "I adore our heroic troops" rhetoric, most on Capitol Hill aren't steering their own children toward military service. Only about 1% of U.S. representatives and senators have a son or daughter in uniform.

For many in Congress, serving in the military is a fine thing to do — for all those poor schmoes who don't have any better options, that is.

During the Vietnam War, the controversial student deferments helped keep most affluent and educated young men out of the military, while those without college opportunities were far more likely to be drafted. Today, the military continues to attract many young men and women from less-affluent families by offering job training and scholarships.

But recent studies of military demographics suggest that today's military is neither uneducated nor poor. Statistically, the enlisted ranks of the military are drawn mainly from neighborhoods that are slightly more affluent than the norm. The very poor are actually underrepresented in the military, relative to the number of very poor people in the population.

That's mainly because the military won't accept the lowest academic achievers. The Army limits recruits without high school degrees to 3 1/2 % of the pool, for instance, while the Marines won't accept recruits without high school degrees. Poverty correlates strongly with high school dropout rates, so these rules significantly limit the access of the very poor to military service.

At the same time, they ensure that enlisted members of the military are more likely than members of the general population to have high school degrees. The same pattern holds for commissioned officers. In 2004, for instance, only 4.2% of officers lacked college degrees, and a whopping 37% held an advanced degree of some sort, compared to only 10% of adults nationwide.

The myth that the military is mainly the province of the poor and the uneducated is grossly misleading, and it's also dangerous. It obscures the far more worrisome gaps that have recently emerged between the military and civilian society.

Demographically, the military is profoundly different from civilian society. It's drawn disproportionately from households in rural areas, for one thing. For another, the South and Southwest are substantially overrepresented within the military, while the Northeast is dramatically underrepresented.

Compared to civilians, members of the military are significantly more religious, and they're also far more likely to be Republicans. A 2005 Military Times poll found that 56% of military personnel described themselves as Republicans, and only 13% described themselves as Democrats. Nationwide, most polls suggest that people who define themselves as Democrats outnumber those defining themselves as Republicans.

And though the average member of the military is neither poor nor uneducated, social and economic elites are dramatically underrepresented in the military.

Frank Schaeffer — coauthor with Kathy Roth-Douquet of "AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service" and "Baby Jack," a novel about a father who loses his Marine son in Iraq — notes that the percentage of enlisted military personnel from households with more than $60,000 in annual income is close to zero. Military recruiters don't even both to recruit in affluent neighborhoods: They know no one's going to sign up. At elite universities — Harvard, Stanford and Yale, for instance — the percentage of graduates who enter the military is minuscule.

All this should bother us — a lot. The United States needs a strong and adaptable military — and in this globalized world, the importance of the military both in U.S. foreign policy and domestic politics is likely to increase, not decrease, in the coming decades. But a democracy needs a military that's not radically out of step with the values and hopes of civilians; and those who volunteer to risk their lives in our name deserve civilian leaders who understand something about the realities of service and combat. If we want an effective military that serves a healthy democracy, political and economic elites ought to shoulder more of the burden.

If political elites don't like the thought of getting stuck in Iraq themselves, they should consider the results of a recent study. Duke University researchers Peter Feaver and Christopher Gelpi analyzed data from the period between 1816 and 1992 and found that "as the percentage of veterans serving in the executive branch and the legislature increases, the probability that the United States will initiate militarized disputes declines by nearly 90%."

Want to make sure that the U.S. never again gets stuck in a pointless and aggressive war? Draft Congress!

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Plantasma siha, Birak siha yan i Manmatai

Every year one of the three Ethnic Studies graduate programs in California (Berkeley, UCSD, USC) take turns hosting a conference called Crossing Borders. The reasoning behind the creation of this conference is that there isn't really a national Ethnic Studies conference for the type of comparative work that these three departments do. There is though the National Association of Ethnic Studies (NAES), but the work there tends to be Ethnic Studies work as it was first articulated in the 1960's, meaning about getting in touch with your roots, knowing your history and carving out a space for your people in the United States.

I love doing this sort of Ethnic Studies (i freskon pao-na "strategic" pat "crass" na essentialism), but unfortunately this isn't what my department at University of California, San Diego or the other two departments are supposed to do. So, if you are Chicano and are looking to learn Chicano history and become well versed in its nuances, then sorry this department my department isn't for you. In Ethnic Studies at UCSD, the issue is not race as something pregiven or beyond production, but rather racialization, the processes by which it is deployed or produced.

I attended the Crossing Borders conference two years ago when Berkeley hosted it around the theme of Ethnic Studies and Decolonization in the 21st Century. I presented a paper which was later to be the second chapter of my master's thesis there, around the impossibility of the Chamorro in relation to decolonization. My paper's title was Impossible Cultures: Missed Representations, Chamorros and the Decolonization of Guam. Although most students in my department and at the conference were a bit uncomfortable and unsure what to make of the conference's theme of decolonization, I found it refreshing, although practically no one save for me and one or two others actually attempted to write about decolonization.

Last year I again attended the conference, this time held at University of Southern California and the theme being The National and the Natural: Reckoning with the Gaps and Breaks. For this conference I presented two papers. The first was co-written with i ga'chong-hu Theofanis Verinakis titled The Consuming Sovereign and Global Nationalism: The Production of U.S. Sovereignty in the Pacific. Bei sangani hao, ya-hu este na sinisedi, sa' fihu kalang na'taiga'chong mamangge', pues maolekna este na "arrangement" sa' mamangge' humamyo yan i ga'chong-mu. My other paper was solo, titled The Decision and Human Instrumentality: Lacan Avec Evangelion...or Why Immanuel Kant Never Dated. You can find the text for my presentation on my blog under Lacan Avec Evangelion.

This year it is my department's turn to pick a theme and host the event. While attending the Crossing Borders conference last year, me along with Ma, Tomoko and Cathi from the then first year cohort broached the idea of having our theme be something about ghosts, hauntings and other manna'ma'a'nao.

For me, the thinking behind this theme, would not only be that it would be interesting or fun, and allow people to be creative if they wanted to, but also that it would be a very productive exercise for engaging with the stuff that makes up the processes of racialization. I've written over the past few weeks quite a bit about the formal vs. the obscene and this untenable but nonetheless very material and very crucial distinction is what makes the difference between whether certain bodies should be made to live or left to die. Whether the demands of some are intelligable and formal or whether they are the shrieking cries of some ghost which refuses to go away.

In starting to brainstorm on the theme for the 2007 Crossing Borders conference, I wrote the following:

Where the political (formal) ends, the terrain of the obscene begins.

Within that terrain meant to be unfathomable and beyond mapping, we find the thematics of racialization. The languages and metaphors which mark the racial and delineate the zones of indistinction which both define the Law and create the domains meant to be beyond its ability to comprehend.

But naturally this is way too abstract to be of any use to someone who isn't Peter Fitzpatrick's research assistant. So we have to move into more concrete terms by describing the spectres and the figures we find in this obscene world. The marks they embody as well as the forms of control, neutralization and resistance they require and offer. The only reason I wanted to have this theme really is because I could write stuff like the following paragraphs, where we explore the half-lit and anxiety inducing existences of these shades of racialization.

Ghosts, the remnants of a nation’s violence which continue to haunt it with anxiety inducing, seething echoes, against which denial, appropriation and exploitation seem to be the only salve for the national subject.

The monstrous is the line which constitutes the half life whose central condition is pain, a gruesome crack in the natural, and the full life which is defined by the ability to feel trauma, the life which is human. The monstrous marks the lack of rationality, those who cannot live, and therefore embody an irrational violence, requiring that all means of sovereignty be kept from them.

The dead, either bodies whose meaning is to be fought over and consumed, or the walking dead; zombies who exist only as objects awaiting the violence of the sovereign, or the masses of bare life, whose meaning will only be counted in the calculus of domestic tragedy or international genocide.

While interesting, these descriptions didn't provide much of a connection to Ethnic Studies critiques, or at least not a concrete one which people could use to work from. Thankfully through conversations with Theo who is also on the committee for organizing this conference, we were able to make a connection to Ethnic Studies via the "unsettling presence" that Ethnic Studies scholarship and scholars provide to public and academic discourse. I'm really looking forward to putting this thing together next year, and not only does the theme of Ghosts, Monsters and The Dead provide a creative way for thinking about race and resistance, but it also provides a creative way for planning the conference party on Saturday night. We were thinking of having a scholarly costume ball. Come right in, here's your costume, you're going as Immanuel Wallerstein.

Information as well as the finished call for papers, on the 5th Annual Crossing Borders Conference whose theme is Ghosts, Monsters and The Dead can be found below:


5th Annual Conference of Ethnic Studies in California co-sponsored by:
Department of Ethnic Studies and California Cultures in Comparative Perspective,
University of California, San Diego
Program in American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California
Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday March 2 – 4, 2007
University of California, San Diego

Do you have this frightening sensation that issues of race and ethnicity are being erased from public and academic discourse? This might explain why on college campuses around the country, Ethnic Studies scholars and students are often regarded as either monsters or boogeymen providing an unsettling presence. The discipline itself is often treated as a ghostly world, populated by howling specters that refuse to relinquish the sins of the past, and have therefore not been properly laid to rest. Given this declining significance of race both as an analytical tool and an object of public discussion, both the work Ethnic Studies scholars produce and the communities they are engaged with appear to be banished to an obscene world, beyond intellectual mapping or recognition, which enters into the political in an almost horrific fashion.

Within this obscene world we find three key figures, ghosts, the dead, and monsters, which are not simply anachronistic grotesque echoes of an abstract past, but rather crucial reflections of the present moment. There are the ghosts, which always embody a violence that the nation struggles to forget, and create a persistent anxiety in their resistance to their “necessary” exorcism. Then there are the walking dead, forms of bare life, which exist as objects producing sovereignty, and whose only recognition lies in the calculus of domestic tragedy or international genocide. Lastly, there are the monsters, “unnatural” existences which mark a lack of rationality, and therefore defy belief and justify violence.

The focus for the 2007 Crossing Borders Conference is to encourage the submission of papers that go beyond an engagement at the level of a formal absence, and instead engage at the level of this obscene world, by interrogating the horrifying themes of Ghosts, Monsters, and The Dead. We invite graduate students in Ethnic Studies programs or producing Ethnic Studies work to submit abstracts comprised of critical inquires which either directly or indirectly relate to these domains of “terror,” and how they are deployed, produced, and contained in processes of racialization.

The deadline for submissions is December 15, 2006 and may take the form of individual paper presentations or proposed panels. Individual submissions must include an abstract no more than 250 words, a one page CV as well as a cover sheet which provides your contact info and any AV needs. Panel proposals must contain, contact info, an abstract and CV for each presenter, as well as a description for the panel not to exceed 150 words. Please email your submissions and any questions to

For updates and more information please head to the conference website at


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