Kristin Oberiano: Guam-Bound: Filipino Diaspora and Chamoru Indigeneity in Guåhan, 1898-1997
This paper explores the complicated relationship between Filipino immigrants and indigenous Chamoru people in Guåhan in the post-World War II in order to show how United States empire, settler colonialism, and militarism are historically intertwined in the Pacific. Though Filipinos on Guåhan before World War II were generally accepted into the local Chamoru society, the postwar US military buildup significantly altered the scale and purpose of Filipino migration. Now tasked to be the racialized labor upon coercively annexed Chamoru land, these Filipino migrant workers became implicated in the settler colonial process of US base-building on Guåhan. Combating one of the visible symbols of US colonialism on Guåhan, Chamoru self-determination movements sought to locally control immigration policies, hoping to curb the rise of the non-Chamoru population. Nonetheless, there were Filipinos, usually second-generation immigrants, who were sympathetic to the Chamoru movement, and who dedicated time and effort to the indigenous rights movements both locally and internationally. Even in tension, there are moments of solidarity. Utilizing government documents, community organization papers, and the theory of Asian settler colonialism, I venture to understand the notion of “Guam-Bound.” I ask what does it mean for Filipinos to be bound for Guåhan in terms of migration experience from their archipelagic homeland and for Chamorus to be ontologically bound to their island home. This research project is about complex ways both migrants and indigenous peoples search for belonging in the transpacific.
Kristin Oberiano is a history PhD candidate at Harvard University, studying United States history and Pacific history. Kristin is primarily interested in the relationship between indigenous peoples and migrants in the Pacific islands, and the effects that militarization has on formations of race and indigeneity. Born and raised to Filipino parents on the island of Guam, she became aware of the lack of Guam history in American textbooks in her primary and secondary school education. Determined to contribute to Guam history, she earned a BA in History and American studies at Occidental College Phi Beta Kappa after writing two senior honor theses. At Harvard, Kristin is a graduate student coordinator of the Asian American Studies Working Group and the co-chair of the coordinating committee of the Harvard Graduate Student Conference on International History (Con-IH), for the themes “The Pacific in the World” and “Militarization: Methods, Approaches, & New Directions.”Her research has been supported by the Ford Research Fellow Grant at Occidental College, Harvard Asia Center Philippines Fund, the Harvard History Department, the Harvard University Native American Program, and the Harvard Weatherhead Center Initiative on Global History.