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Making Micronesia

Making Micronesia: A Political Biography of Tosiwo Nakayama

David Hanlon
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Making Micronesia
    Book Description:

    Why are islanders so lavishly generous with food and material possessions but so guarded with information? Why do these people, unfailingly polite for the most part, laugh openly when others embarrass themselves? What does a smile mean to an islander? What might a sudden lapse into silence signify? These questions are common in encounters with an unfamiliar Pacific Island culture. Making Sense of Micronesia is intended for westerners who find themselves in contact with Micronesians—as teachers, social workers, health-care providers, or simply as friends—and are puzzled by their island ways. It is for anyone struggling to make sense of cultural exchanges they don’t quite understand. The author focuses on the guts of island culture: the importance of the social map, the tension between the individual and social identity, the ways in which wealth and knowledge are used, the huge importance of respect, emotional expression and its restraints, island ways of handling both conflict and intimacy, the real but indirect power of women. Far from a theoretical exposition, the book begins and ends with the real-life behavior of islanders. Each section of every chapter is introduced by a vignette that illustrates the theme discussed. The book attempts to explain island behavior, as curious as it may seem to outsiders at times, against the over-riding pattern of values and attitudes that have always guided island life. Even as the author maps the cultural terrain of Micronesia, he identifies those areas where island logic and the demands of the modern world conflict: the “dilemmas of development.” In some cases, changes are being made; in others, the very features of island culture that were highly functional in the past may remain so even today. Overall, he advocates restraint—in our judgments on island practices, in our assumption that many of these are dysfunctional, and in leading the charge for “development” before understanding the broader context of the culture we are trying to convert.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3847-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Writing a Biography of Tosiwo Nakayama
    (pp. 1-15)

    Tosiwo Nakayama, the first president of the Federated States of Micronesia, spent his last two years in Waipahu, a former plantation town on the island of O‘ahu flattened, paved over, and built upon with shopping malls and tract houses. Japanese and later Filipino immigrants once worked the sugarcane fields of Waipahu. More recently, the town has become home to an increasing number of people from the islands called “Micronesia,” most notably those from Chuuk and the Marshall Islands. Their presence is the result of provisions within the Compacts of Free Association between the United States and the governments of the...

  6. CHAPTER 1 A World of Islands
    (pp. 16-41)

    Tosiwo Nakayama’s life is most closely associated with islands that make up the geographical region called “Micronesia.” These islands lie spread across a vast expanse of ocean in the Western Pacific.¹ Geographers locate the overwhelming majority of these islands and atolls as being north of the equator and west of the international date line. Considered by some to be among the most peripheral of peripheries, these bodies nonetheless have been at the center of several of the more historically prominent events of the twentieth century. Tarawa, the Chuuk Lagoon, Guam, Saipan, Angaur, and Peleliu served as sites for some of...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Japanese Times
    (pp. 42-60)

    Japan’s acquisition of the Caroline, Mariana, and Marshall Islands prefaced and made possible Nakayama Masami’s arrival in Chuuk. This chapter begins with a history of that acquisition and the subsequent establishment of Japan’s administrative presence in the islands. A very young Tosiwo Nakayama was largely oblivious to the international developments and negotiations that placed the islands under Japanese control. The consequences of that colonization and the war that eventually followed, however, affected his life in profound and lasting ways, both personally and politically. In 1944, the privileges provided by his Japanese paternity dissolved under repeated American bombing that left significant...

  8. CHAPTER 3 An Education
    (pp. 61-92)

    The war and the years immediately following had severely disrupted the lives of many. Death, destruction, displacement, and the arrival of a new colonial order took a significant toll on the generation coming of age in the 1940s. With the outbreak of war, Tosiwo Nakayama’s family had lost their relatively comfortable situation amidst the largely Japanese population on Toloas. They endured the war on Tol and later returned to Rosania’s home island of Onoun after Masami’s repatriation to Japan. Tosiwo Nakayama now faced a future bound tightly to the immediate confines of land, sea, and family. Circumstance and personal ambition,...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Representing Micronesia, 1961–1975
    (pp. 93-127)

    Tosiwo Nakayama’s career in government closely paralleled the trajectory of political development during the Trust Territory period. What would become the Congress of Micronesia evolved from a series of earlier representative bodies that included municipal councils, district legislatures, the Trust Territory–wide Inter-District Advisory Committee, and the Council of Micronesia. Nakayama had been involved at each of these levels, having worked on the development of municipal government in his role with the Island Affairs office in Chuuk and later as advisor to the district administrator. A practical man, he utilized the tools of representative government to build consensus and common...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Constituting a Nation
    (pp. 128-158)

    Tosiwo Nakayama stood before the assembled delegates to the Micronesian Constitutional Convention on 12 July 1975 and stated that the time to create a constitution for a Micronesian government was “now or never.”¹ He believed firmly that the convention offered the only real opportunity to create the foundations for an independent, self-governing entity for islands too long under the control of other countries. The obstacles facing delegates at the start of the convention were enormous, and would be compounded by events and developments over the ninety-day life of the gathering. Divisions among the different island groups threatened to undermine the...

  11. CHAPTER 6 One Canoe
    (pp. 159-183)

    On 27 May 1976, High Commissioner Edward E. Johnston formally presented Tosiwo Nakayama with the pen Nakayama had used to sign the draft constitution. The historically significant pen was mounted in a glass frame; it came with the inscription “Pen Used by Honorable Tosiwo Nakayama, President of the Constitutional Convention as final signer of the Constitution for the Federated States of Micronesia, November 1975.”¹ It was an odd, awkward moment that revealed a dominant colonial presence seeking to assert its continuing presence and to add its imprimatur to political change. Johnston was in the final days of his tenure as...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Governing a Rainbow
    (pp. 184-215)

    In his first inaugural address, Tosiwo Nakayama borrowed heavily from the Preamble of the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia to underscore the significance of the occasion.¹ He cited the constitution as an exercise of sovereignty, and quoted the passage that affirmed the common desire of the people to live together in peace and harmony, to preserve the heritage of the past, and to protect the promise of the future. He noted too the diversity within the borders of the new nation, and the enrichment and promise that such diversity made possible. He likened the FSM to a beautiful...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Rough Seas and Later Years
    (pp. 216-246)

    Trying to create a nation out of islands and island groups whose residents did not see themselves as citizens of a larger political entity posed a daunting task for the Nakayama administration. Compounding the difficulties were the alien governing structures and procedures and an understandable insistence on the privileging of local interests and needs. The creation of a national government involved intense contestations at more local levels over identity, belonging, obligation, and allegiance. Nakayama tried to minimize the conflicting interests by describing the national government as the agent of the states. He said in 1982:

    We regard ourselves in the...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 247-288)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 289-300)
  16. Index
    (pp. 301-312)
  17. About the Author
    (pp. 313-315)