This project examines how Indigenous women nonviolently resist the invisible and visible sexist and environmental politics of everyday and expanding militarization by the United States in the Marianas Archipelago. As “protectors and defenders” of their families, communities, and natural environment, CHamoru and Refalawasch women employ digital, legal, political, and spiritual resistance. Their strategies are based and sustained within ancient matriarchal systems and matrilineal genealogies and are shared across the new media platforms: Change.org, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Written as a form of academic activism and created in fluidarity (solidarity) with others writing and working for decolonization and demilitarization, this thesis is designed as politically engaged qualitative resistance (re)search and is based on critical theoretical and emancipatory conceptual frameworks. Five resistance examples from Guå’han (Guam) and five examples from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are explored through a decolonized and gendered lens, and I apply reflective and visual methodologies,

This thesis argues that the United States (US) reinforces and relies on imperial ideologies and the “protector/protected” narrative to justify everyday and expanding militarisation. Everyday militarisation is fulfilled through the continued political status as insular areas belonging to the United States federal government while expanding militarisation is justified through the Pacific pivot foreign policy carried out by the US Department of Defense in the name of national security. The invisible and visible sexist and environmental politics of everyday and expanding militarisation manifests in the communities “along the fenceline” and within the “support economies” that surround military installations.

The resistance, however, is much more complex than the local population versus the US government and military. The Marianas Archipelago has the second highest rate of US Force enlistment, and the residents are considered a “patriotic” population with US citizenship. These intricacies are addressed throughout the thesis with the women articulating that they are not “anti-military” or “anti-American.” Instead, their resistance is based on the premise that both the US federal government and the US Department of Defense must address unfulfilled commitments and abide by previous agreements.

Finally, the aim of this (re)search as resistance is to contribute by creating and disseminating open, public, accessible, shareable, understandable, and informative scholarship. Organised as a hybrid thesis, I incorporate academic and new media publications and include 43 images. In a time of US political uncertainty, women in the Marianas Archipelago continue to resist in fluidarity with others across the globe. This thesis is one snapshot of “women rising” in the Marianas Archipelago: “fanohge famalåo’an” and “fan’tachu fama’lauan” in CHamoru.

Oceania Resistance

Researcher profile

Report by Pacific Media Centre