Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Ghost of Guam...

For our conference in Ethnic Studies at UCSD "Postcolonial Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World: Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous and Postcolonial Studies" everything is just about set. For those interested in looking at the schedule or getting more info on attending, click this link for the schedule and this link for the conference website.

In addition to helping organize the conference, I'll also be heading up a roundtable discussion on Guam in relation to my prospective dissertation. The title of the roundtable is "The Ghost of Guam in the Machinery of American Sovereignty" and its basic goal is to tackle the question I hope to confront in my dissertation, "What role does Guam, with its ambiguous political status and its strategic military importance, play in the production of American sovereignty, or in the aura of power, authority and benevolence that America surrounds itself in or projects to the rest of the world."

For this conversation I'll be joined by Chamorro scholars Antoinette Chafauros McDaniel from Ursuline College, Michael Pangelinan Perez from California State Fullerton and Chamorro activist Michael Leon Guerrero. I'm really looking forward to it, and writing my introduction for it right now, which if all goes well will be the intro for my dissertation as well.

I'm pasting below the panel description below for you to check out. By the way, for those interested, as part of the conference we'll be having an open mic and karaoke night on the 6th at the Women's Center at UCSD. More info below:
Thursday, March 6
7 - 9 PM
UCSD Women's Center
Featuring: Cultural Performances, Spoken Word, KARAOKE!
Also featuring: Art Projects by students of Yen Le Espiritu's "Comparative Southeast Asian American Histories, Identities, and Communities"
Free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!


The Ghost of Guam in the Machinery of American Sovereignty

When asked about decolonization and the rights to self-determination of the peoples of the Micronesian islands, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger infamously stated, "There are only 90,000 people there; who gives a damn.” It is in this sort of similar commonsensically dismissive logic that colonialism today in place such as the island of Guam is regarded. As a colony in a world which has already gotten over colonialism, a place such as Guam is a sad, lonely exception to the existing multicultural family of nations. In this sense, Guam and places like it are insignificant, and say or mean very little in terms of describing or defining the global order today. So in the minds of most people in the United States and elsewhere, “Guam, a colony, who gives a damn?”

But to say that Guam means nothing today doesn’t quite capture its curious existence. In American popular culture Guam is literally anything, in a year’s worth of movies, blogs, books and newspaper articles Guam can be a member of the Coalition of the Willing, a tropical paradise, an island of cannibals, an island of exiled homosexuals and Guatemala. For the Federal Government however Guam is one thing and one thing only, a military installation, and one of its most important in the world today because of its ambiguous political status (not a state or a foreign country) and its geographical location on the edge of Asia.

In this roundtable of Chamorro scholars and activists, we would like to discuss what this precarious status of Guam today can tell us about the current global order and the direction that places such as the United States are taking it, in terms of sovereignty, military power, imperial consciousness, and political status. To do this we will reflect on the importance of small sites such as Guam which are paradoxically supposedly insignificant and tiny, yet at the same time powerful, strategically necessary, critical, and how an incredible amount of power goes into the making of something appear to be nothing, and sovereignty is produced through the ability to make use of that which appears to be nothing.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails