Friday, August 30, 2013

Jumping the Fence

I'm up late trying to finish my talk for tomorrow at the Marianas History Conference at UOG.

The title of my talk is "Jumping the Fence" and it is an evaluation of the impact that Nasion Chamoru and its first Maga'lahi Angel Santos has had on contemporary Guam. I outline a number of changes that they helped to facilitate in terms of culture and politics.

Jumping the fence is a metaphor for decolonization and it refers to the infamous incident when Angel Santos, Ed Benavente and several others jumped the fence at former Naval Air Station, or what is today known as "Tiyan." They did this right in front of media and military police, and when they were arrested Santos spat in the face of one of his captors. It was a moment that defined Nasion Chamoru for many people in a negative sense, but can also play a big role in helping us understand just how much they changed the island with their activism.

My favorite line thus far in my presentation is as follows:

"The point of any fence, in a colonial space, is to jump it (or to be jumped). It exists to seal off something, some shred of sovereignty from the colonized. So long as these fences remain "unjumped" whatever sense of powerless and displacement they helped to create will continue to persist."

Lastly, here's my abstract for my paper. It is very short and to the point:

In 1991 a group of twenty people gathered in Latte Stone Park in Hagatna, to proclaim the birth of a Chamorro nation. This group would eventually evolve into "Nasion Chamoru," the most notorious organization in recent Guam history. They would organize countless protests, sit ins and other acts of civil disobedience and change the ideological landscape of Guam. This paper will evaluate the impact of Nasion Chamoru in terms of how people conceptualize decolonization, Chamorro culture and land today.

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