Showing posts from March, 2018

Circumnavigations #7: Guma'Cervantes

While in Valladolid, on a chilly afternoon, I walked through a house with cramped staircases and low hanging doorways. There were small beds in darkened corners. Aged chairs and paintings. Iron pots and kitchen implements. No doubt much of what was in there, had been placed for effect, but you could still feel the age. This house is known as Case de Cervantes, it was a home where the writer Miguel Cervantes stayed in the early 17th century. Today it is a small museum that features small bits of information about the writer's life. You will also find similar Case de Cervantes in other parts of Spain.

Miguel Cervantes is best known for his book Don Quixote, and called the greatest writer in the Spanish language and the first modern novelist. Historians of nationalism are always quick to remind us that the political history of a place doesn't have as much of a role in creating national identity as historians usually imply. Arts and culture, can play a much more profound role in…

Circumnavigations #6: The First Book Around the World

One of the presenters at the "Primus Circumdedisti Me: Claves de la Primera Globalizacion" conference focused primarily on the life of those who traveled with Magellan on his voyage. What were the things that they ate? How much did they get paid? What were the rules on these ships? What was the hierarchy like? Were captains the lords over these ships and the men like slaves? Or was there some democracy as we see on pirate ships?

Much of this presentation I was already familiar with from my own study and even from the numerous pirate based video games that I enjoy playing. But there was one part that I found particularly interesting, about how men passed the time on the voyages, or what they did for fun.

Trade voyages to the other side of the world, followed known routes, but still took months and years to complete, the level of ennui on these journeys must have been severe on small ships without may diversions, and a crew too poor and too cramped in to bring much with them.…

Circumnavigations #5: Magellan's Gift

After attending a conference where everyone couldn't stop talking about Ferdinand Magellan for three days straight, I could not help but think about one of the more intimate ways that the explorer has been invoked within my family. Many Chamoru families will mention Magellan in the usual ways, as the source of civilization, Christianity or modernity, as the limit of Chamoru existence, where prior to Magellan there is primitivity and savagery. They may mention him generically as being the first colonizer or the beginning of the end for the Chamoru people, even though he did not directly colonize Guam, and such a process would begin more than 140 years later under the guidance of Påle' San Vitores. 
The interesting way that my family and in particular my grandfather Tun Jack Lujan, the late Chamoru Master Blacksmith would bring in Magellan's gifts, was through the metaphor of metal. Metal is always brought into play to provide meaning to the early years of European contact.…

Circumnavigations #4: Re-Discovering Discovery Day

Several years ago, Senator Tommy Morrison was pushing for the reinstatement of Discovery Day as a local, Government of Guam holiday. For those younger or more forgetful than myself, Discovery Day was a holiday created in 1971 to commemorate the "discovering" of Guam by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. It was celebrated until the early 2000s when it was removed as a local holiday. For those who aren't familiar with the festivities associated with Discovery Day, it was normally a time for the southern village of Umatac/Humatak to shine. A fair or carnival would be held in the village, with the highlight of the day being a re-enactment of the arrival of Magellan. 

If you have never been to a Discovery Day before I suggest you go just to witness the surreal nature of this reenactment where Chamoru huts are burnt and Chamoru are killed by a guy in Spanish armor who usually arrives in Umatac Bay via a motorboat. The village of Umatac in particular enjoyed this holiday as it brought …

Circumnavigations #3: March 6, 1521

In Magellan's trip across the Pacific, he passed by thousands of islands, the majority of which they did not see. They noticed a few, but they had no resources to offer and only made the voyagers more distressed. Guam and the Marianas were the first landfall they made after months at sea, where many became ill and more than a dozen died. The interactions between Chamorus and Magellan did not go well, and I'll write more about that later. Because of this contact, Magellan's voyage was able to obtain some supplies to help them eventually reach the Philippines less than two weeks later.

As a result, hundreds of years later, Guam still has a small, but secure place in the history of European imperialism and the stories of its mastering of the world. One historian refers to this moment as the first taint of civilization, and if you believe in notions of cultural purity than it is easy to understand or accept that thesis. But even from the general ways these moments of first co…

Circumnavigations #2: Sumugo' yu giya Seoul...

My trip to Spain took me through South Korea, where I spent seven hours in the Incheon Airport in Seoul.

In the same way that Guam and Okinawa have been connected for years now because of US military plans, so too have Guam and South Korea become connected as well.

Guam has been a potential target for North Korea for many years now, as it is one of the most prominent US bases in the region.

But over the past year the danger to Guam has become far more pronounced, from both sides of the Pacific.

Late last year, North Korean rhetoric became more focused around Guam, far more than it ever had before.

The year before that, Donald Trump was elected President of the US, and his foreign policy approach hasn't been very ideologically based, but seems to be rooted in impulsive Twitter tirades.

Both of them combined mean that people on Guam have no idea what to think or even worry about next.

North Korea is portrayed as a tin pot regime, simply full of bluster one moment, and then the most…


I will be in Spain this week for the conference "PRIMUS CIRCUMDEDISTI ME: Claves de la primera globalizacion." It is a historical congress being organized primarily by the Spanish Ministry of Defense that will discuss the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world by Ferdinand Magellan. I am attending the conference as the representative from Guam, where Magellan visited in March of 1521.

I will be writing about my trip and the congress under the title "Circumnavigations." Not only because of the trip of Magellan itself, but also because of the ways in which Guam and myself are navigating as well, working our way around history and around the global filled with independent nations.

Here is the description of the conference from its website. 

Introduction The Spanish Ministry of Defence –in collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, and with the Junta de Castilla y Leon– organizes the In…

Kinentos Trentai Ocho

During the 2016 election, I followed the website FiveThirtyEight on a daily basis.

I found the commentary to be very enlightening, as it wasn't just their reporting about polls, but also their analysis on what makes a poll informative or effective.

The media in general often times picks polls that fit the narrative they are trying to promote, or they have their own internal hierarchy over what makes one poll useful and another less so.

But these critical information points are rarely discussed openly, even if more astute media viewers or consumers can make their own best guesses.

Although after Trump's victory in the election, I stopped consuming that type of poll-focused news.

But as the US mid-term election season is starting up again, and we've ahead a round of very interesting special elections, I've slowly been drawn back to the website.

This type of coverage, in the form of a group chat around the recent apparent Democratic-victory, is what makes it such entertai…

Mensåhi Ginen i Gehilo' #26: Kao pau hånao ha' si Uncle Sam?

"Kao pau hånao ha' si Uncle Sam, anggen manindipendente hit?"
Fihu hiningok-hu este na chathinasso ginen i kumunidåt. Anggen mamindipendente hit, u fanmalingu siempre todu i kosas motdeno. U hånao ha’ si Uncle Sam, pau dingu hit ya pau laknos yan bo’ok todu i chinile’-ña mågi.
Ti magåhet este. Fihu ti ya-ña i Estådos Unidos umatmitde este, lao guaha obligasion-ña nu hita. Put i ha fitma i charter para i Unidos Nasiones, ha aksepta i responsibilidåt, este mafa’na’an “inanggokko sagrådu” a sacred trust. Na para u ga’chungi hit gi este na chålan mo’na. Guaha meggai na klasen ayudu na ha oblibliga muna’guaha, lao para este na kuestion, uno mås propiu para ta diskuti, i tiempon “transition.”
Este na klasen kontråtan, fihu masusedi gi taiguini na klasen tinilaikan pulitikåt gi otro na tåno’ lokkue’. Siña este na tiempon tinilaika tinaka’ uno año, tres años, dies años, pat bente pat trenta años. I inapmåm-ña ha dipepende gi håfa diniside ni’ dos na nasion.
Gi este na tiempon, man…

ARC and Me

Each March, UOG organizes an Annual Research Conference or ARC. This year is the 39th year there has been a conference such as this. I presented at this conference as an undergraduate student, a graduate student and now I present at it regularly as a professor. For this year's ARC, I am participating in a couple different panels and presentations, most of which are connected to Guam's decolonization or its current political status.

Here are the abstracts for two of the sessions to which I am most looking forward:


A Decolonial Analysis of Guam’s Media Landscape
The role of media in a society is not simply to report stories and investigate events, but to promote values and norms, usually on behalf of dominant classes or institutions. In a colonial context, such as that of Guam, these roles gain a colonial dimension, as both institutions and individuals will often be compelled to defend and naturalize the colonial status quo. As such, rather than condu…