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"I Guess They Didn't Want Us Asking Too Many Questions": Reading American Empire in Guam

From: The Contemporary Pacific
Volume 25, Number 1, Spring 2013
pp. 67-91 | 10.1353/cp.2013.0010



This article analyzes Chris Perez Howard's biography of his mother, Mariquita: A Tragedy of Guam, and selections from Craig Santos Perez's poetry book from unincorporated territory: [hacha] and explores their responses to the continued colonization of Guam by the United States. While these two authors use the same events, namely World War II and the multiple military occupations of their home island, to reflect on the contemporary situation in Guam, I claim that the United States is able to continue its colonization of Guam through the twin practices of denying its own imperial practices and ignoring the pleas of native activists. The United States is partially able to accomplish its denial by using a memorialization of rescue from coercive and repressive colonizers who are portrayed in contrast with its own "benevolent" stewardship of the island. This rhetoric of liberation has been one of the acceptable forms of narrative for past authors, but contemporary authors and activists are beginning to explore other forms of discourse.

Both Perez and Howard use metaphors of the body in order to explore the disjointed nature of Guam's relationship to the continental United States. Howard portrays the dependent position of Guam through the metaphor of the willing and submissive female body of his mother, whereas Perez attempts to reclaim an independent body and nation that is continually under siege from the United States and its military ambitions. Despite their stylistic differences, these two authors both claim recognition for Guam and its peoples.

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