An(i)ti: An Examination of Settler Discourse and Politics in Guåhan
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Guåhan is an unincorporated territory of the United States which exists in a “liminal space, betwixt and between, somehow outside the normal order of sovereignty or integration” (Stade, 1998, p. 47). Often referred to as the “Tip of America’s Spear,” the island sits at the nexus of the United States’ co-constitutive capitalist, militarist and imperialist agenda. Consequently, the CHamoru people, the Indigenous people of Guåhan, are the subjects of a settler colonial/militarist order. This is a relation of domination which is mediated by what is characterized as an extant colonial mainstream mediascape, a media structure which reproduces settler ideology, politics, and reality. In this thesis, I examine mainstream news media in Guåhan to draw out the presence of pro-American ideologies which operate through what John B. Thompson identifies are ideological modes of operation. That is, rhetorical strategies which work to reproduce American settler colonial/militarist hegemony. By looking at particular discursive events which occurred primarily during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, I elucidate how such media environments perpetuate the dominant order of American militarization and imperialism overseas. This thesis also theorizes an alternative CHamoru media framework which counters settler colonial/militarist cultural productions. This framework, which I refer to as Fanhigaiyan, comprises a set of principles from CHamoru worldviews and drawn from conversations with journalists and CHamoru activists in Guåhan during the research period. Fanhigaiyan as a concept illustrates how CHamoru media activists not only create and spread information, but also build relationalities amongst each other and with their audiences in translocal solidarity as a means of subverting their colonial status.