Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Cultures of Commemoration

Cultures of Commemoration: The Politics of War, Memory, and History in the Mariana Islands

Keith L Camacho
Copyright Date: 2011
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Cultures of Commemoration
    Book Description:

    In 1941 the Japanese military attacked the US naval base Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu. Although much has been debated about this event and the wider American and Japanese involvement in the war, few scholars have explored the Pacific War's impact on Pacific Islanders.Cultures of Commemorationfills this crucial gap in the historiography by advancing scholarly understanding of Pacific Islander relations with and knowledge of American and Japanese colonialisms in the twentieth century. Drawing from an extensive archival base of government, military, and popular records, Chamorro scholar Keith L Camacho traces the formation of divergent colonial and indigenous histories in the Mariana Islands, an archipelago located in the western Pacific and home to the Chamorro people. He shows that US colonial governance of Guam, the southernmost island, and that of Japan in the Northern Mariana Islands created competing colonial histories that would later inform how Americans, Chamorros, and Japanese experienced and remembered the war and its aftermath. Central to this discussion is the American and Japanese administrative development of "loyalty" and "liberation" as concepts of social control, collective identity, and national belonging. Just how various Chamorros from Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands negotiated their multiple identities and subjectivities is explored with respect to the processes of history and memory-making among this "Americanized" and "Japanized" Pacific Islander population. In addition, Camacho emphasizes the rise of war commemorations as sites for the study of American national historic landmarks, Chamorro Liberation Day festivities, and Japanese bone-collecting missions and peace pilgrimages. Ultimately,Cultures of Commemorationdemonstrates that the past is made meaningful and at times violent by competing cultures of American, Chamorro, and Japanese commemorative practices.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6031-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  5. Introduction: War, Memory, History
    (pp. 1-19)

    The relationship between war, memory, and history resonates deeply and profoundly in what Naoto Sudo called the first “postcolonial” literary history of the western Pacific region (2004, 2).¹ Referring to the 1986 publication of Chris Perez Howard’sMariquita: A Tragedy of Guam,Sudo observed that this biographical novel highlights both American andjapanese colonialisms in Guam (2004, 2). Unlike most postcolonial writings that target Euro-American colonialism in the Pacific, Howard’s novel offers a radical post-colonial intervention in its critique of what might be understood as “Asian” and “Western” forms of colonialism (Sudo 2004, 2). The book focuses on a family tragedy...

  6. Chapter 1 Loyalty and Liberation
    (pp. 20-38)

    One cannot appreciate the memories and histories of World War II in the Mariana Islands without understanding the narrative devices, or concepts, that shape their meaning and purpose. In the time before the war, which Chamorros identify asantes gi tiempon guerra,a variety of concepts informed the nature of economic, political, and social relations among Chamorros and their respective colonizers. Most notably, these concepts included, but were not limited to, notions of “loyalty” and “liberation.” As a working definition, loyalty signifies “an abiding disposition to act with others in support of a shared commitment” (Waller and Linklater 2003, 224)....

  7. Chapter 2 World War II in the Mariana Islands
    (pp. 39-58)

    By 1941, several decades of colonial rule had resulted in the development of separate, though ambivalent, spheres of Chamorro loyalties in the Mariana Islands. In the time before the war, Chamorro identifications with and against their colonial powers, particularly japan and the United States, surfaced. Political movements for citizenship, educational instruction, commemorative activities and national holidays, village health and agricultural contests, and everyday interactions with the colonial governments provided venues for Chamorros to come to terms with the politics of American and Japanese colonialisms. Outside the efforts to acquire military or national recognition, Chamorros evidenced no collective, politically conscious desire...

  8. Chapter 3 The War’s Aftermath
    (pp. 59-82)

    The years immediately following World War II have been referred to, inter-changeably, as periods of “reconstruction” and “rehabilitation” (Gaddis 1972, 96). These terms have been used to describe the dismantling of the military industries of Germany and japan, respectively, and of the Allied rebuilding of local and regional economies affected by the war (McCormick 1991, 27). In the Pacific theater, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States on 6 and 9 August 1945 killed thousands in those cities, compelling japan to surrender a few days later, on 15 August. The bombings instigated a...

  9. Chapter 4 From Processions to Parades
    (pp. 83-109)

    During the first half of the twentieth century, American and japanese colonial administrations in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands sometimes used commemorations as a means to encourage the loyalty of the Chamorro population. These cultures of commemorations would grow in number in the decades following World War II, albeit in ways increasingly dictated by Chamorro memories of their wartime and postwar experiences. In this chapter I explore the historical development of Guam’s central commemoration of the war, Liberation Day (21 July 1944), from its inception in 1945 to the fiftieth anniversary of the war in 1994. I examine the...

  10. Chapter 5 The Land without Heroes
    (pp. 110-135)

    In the Northern Mariana Islands, war commemorations also dictate in large part the ways in which people remember and understand the war, then and now. In particular, the island of Saipan sets the terms for commemorative activities in the Northern Mariana Islands. Civic ceremonies, national memorial projects, and pilgrimages of mourning represent some of the publicly recognized commemorations in these islands. The central war commemoration, also called Liberation Day, celebrates not the invasion of American military forces on 15 June 1944, but the release of civilians from Camp Susupe on 4 July 1946. Unlike celebrations of American liberation in Guam,...

  11. Chapter 6 On the Margins of Memory and History
    (pp. 136-160)

    Since the first commemoration of World War II in 1945, there has been a concerted effort to remember the war in the Mariana Islands. Of all the commemorations, Liberation Day has emerged as the pivotal celebration in both the Northern Marianas and Guam. It is a significant occasion for the interpretation, mediation, and representation of a diversity of war memories. But it is also unique for what its organizers fail to remember. From its early years in the late 1940s to its fiftieth anniversary in 1994, the planners for Liberation Day commemorations have made no attempt to remember the controversial...

  12. Chapter 7 On the Life and Death of Father Dueñas
    (pp. 161-178)

    This book opened with a discussion of Chris Perez Howard’s novelMariquita,a story about the tragic death of the author’s mother, Mariquita, during the japanese wartime invasion and occupation of Guam. I then examined the social construction of colonial and indigenous memories of World War II in the Mariana Islands. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, in various chapters I explored the construction of these public memories through the entangled historical development of loyalty and liberation, colonial expansionist and occupational policies, indigenous cultural politics, rehabilitation programs, and, lastly, commemorative activities. I have also endeavored to replicate the novel’s treatment of japan,...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 179-190)
  14. References
    (pp. 191-216)
  15. Index
    (pp. 217-225)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 226-231)