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May 24, 2016 @ 10:02 pm

Ep. 243 “Guahan, Vieques (Puerto Rico), and Hawai’i: Island Relationalities and Feminist Demilitarization Movements”

Ep. 243  “Guahan, Vieques (Puerto Rico), and Hawai’i: Island Relationalities and Feminist Demilitarization Movements”(hosted by Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad and produced by Tom Maxedon with assistance from Alan Grossman and Robert Wang) was recorded 5/16/16 and airs 5/20/16. 


Program guest is Ms. Rebekah Garrison, a PhD candidate in American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California (USC). Her dissertation research in progress is  a comparative examination of how female Indigenous activists on Guahan, Vieques (Puerto Rico) and Hawaiʻi, link the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea through demilitarization, as the core of their social movements.  

Vieques is an island in Puerto Rico that the U.S. Department of Defense used as a site for bomb testing and training between 1941 and 2003.  Kaho’olawe in the Hawaiian Island chain was also used for similar purposes from 1941 thru 1990, which ended as a result of actions and litigation brought by the Protect Kaho’olawe‘ Ohana (PKO). Through a decolonial framework, Rebekah examines community mobilizations that resulted in the expulsion of the US military and its allies from Kahoʻolawe, Hawaii in 1990 and Vieques, Puerto Rico in 2003.  She is on Guahan for extended fieldwork to explore demilitarization tactics within the contemporary Mariana Islands.

Using a combination of archival research, interviews, and participant observation, she attempts to write a history of “island relationality”, wherein she uses an alternative approach to the singular study of islands and instead, demilitarizes colonial cartographies for comparative analysis.  Rebekah focuses on the International Women’s Network Against Militarism (IWNAM), and examines how members of this organization construct their own decolonial theorizations of geography.  By creating a network of relations, participants redefine the parameters of thinking through islands as comparative units.  In her research, she articulates how the histories of Kahoʻolawe and Vieques circulate within Guahan and cognitively map decolonial forms of island relational experiences between Pacific and Caribbean islands.  The IWNAM provides a new discourse regarding the ways in which female indigenous activists across multiple islands mobilize solidarity, disrupting histories of colonialism while also imagining a future free of US military imposition.

Music selection: Canción para Vieques (Song for Vieques) performed by various artists.  

Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad is an associate professor of social work at the University of Guam. She is also the organizer and chair of the Guahan Coalition of Peace and Justice, a member organization of  IWNAM.  She is serving as interim coordinator for Beyond the Fence.     

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