Sylvia Frain: Digital Oceanic Knowledge(s)
The Micronesia region continues to be controlled by the United States (US) for militarised maritime exercises and expanding military bases. The entangled processes of militarism(s), colonialism(s) and climate injustice expose the limitations of colonial nation-states structures. The varying political arrangements of the region disrupts potential collaborative climate change policies, as Guåhan (Guam) and the Northern Mariana Islands remain as non-self-governing territories ‘belonging’ to the US. In addition, the US financial contribution for the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, within the Compact of Free Association agreement, will expire by 2024. Serving as a potential epistemological bridge between Western technologies and non-Western spaces of knowledge(s) and histories, this project seeks to examine creative approaches to climate change action, produced on digital platforms as visual and textual content. Indigenous oceanic futures challenge settler colonialism(s) and militarisation while promoting climate justice. These digital stories counter the narrative of ‘drowning island nations’ with ‘we are fighting’! Visualised through new media platforms, peoples in Micronesia are creating online petitions, poem-videos, and are using hashtags to link transpacific collaborative efforts beyond colonial control and borders. These forms of oceanic solidarity are best described by the late poet, academic and Microwoman, Dr Teresia K Teaiwa as ‘fluidarity,’ which centres the ocean as a space of power, migration, and futures (2005).
Sylvia C Frain earned her PhD with the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago in 2017 and was the inaugural postdoctoral fellow with the Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology in 2018. She currently serves as a Research Affiliate with the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, a Research Associate with the Micronesian Area Research Center at the University of Guam, and continues as a member of the Vakatele Pacific Research Networkat Auckland University of Technology. Sylvia conducts research for Impact Research NZ and consults for Practical Solutions, LLC, based in Saipan, The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Micronesia. She regularly contributes content for the blog Pasifika Rising, an initiative of the Raising Pacific Voices Project with Oxfam Pacific, and is the resource editor for the digital site, Aotearoa New Zealand Disarmament Hub, hosted by Peace Movement Aotearoa. Along with the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies alumni, Dr Monica Carr, she co-founded The Everyday Peace Initiative a collective which supports people and communities to build peace through research, education, and consulting services. Finally, Sylvia serves as a council member with the Auckland-based Peace Foundation. Sylvia continues to use new media platforms to archive her research data and share resources for others working across Oceania. She founded and manages the research-oriented Facebook page, Oceania Resistance to share her research in the Marianas Archipelago and highlight current issues impacting the Pacific region. Her work is linked through the #hashtag: #OceaniaResistance and her doctoral thesis is available as an e-book on the Guam-based website, Guampedia.