Navy Wives/native Lives: The Cultural and Historical Relations Between American Naval Wives and Chamorro Women in Guam, 1898--1945

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ProQuest, 2008 - 248 pages
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This dissertation builds on scholarship in various fields of history (women's history and Pacific history) and interdisciplinary studies (new colonial studies, feminist critiques of power, and native Pacific cultural studies). Combining archival work and oral histories, it draws on native and non-native sources to explore the dialogical social relations between native Chamorro women and white American U.S. Navy wives in the American territory of Guam in the first half of the twentieth century. The dissertation explores how the gendered and racialized work of U.S. Navy wives, and their efforts to transplant white womanhood in Guam, encountered equally determined Chamorro women. Their interactions would forge new political, social, and cultural spaces from which both sides aided and abetted American military colonialism and also constructed new forms of Chamorro and American female consciousness and subjectivity. On the Chamorro side in particular, these new forms comprised an emergent Chamorro modernity, or new ways of being native Chamorro in relation to American practices such as speaking English, donning American-style dress and fashion, wearing make-up, attending schools, hospitals, dramas, dance halls, and saluting flags, without necessarily abandoning deep indigenous values and practices. In tracing the historical development of native modernities under naval colonial rule, this study examines the emergence of indigenous forms of modernity, and challenges conceptual and political frameworks that have viewed indigeneity and modernity as mutually exclusive social and cultural categories.

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