Living with the Fence: Militarization and Military Spaces on Guahan/Guam


Alexander, Ronni. 2016. “Living with the Fence: Militarization and Military Spaces on Guahan/Guam.” Gender, Place & Culture 23 (6): 869–82. doi:10.1080/0966369X.2015.1073697.


Author: Ronni Alexander


The landscape of Guahan/Guam, an organized unincorporated territory of the USA and the largest and southernmost island of the Mariana Islands archipelago, is visibly marked by chain link fences that enclose land taken for use by the US military. This US military presence on Guam is evidence of a long military colonial history that has stressed, particularly under US rule, the importance of the island's strategic location. The ‘fence,’ a frequently used but rarely defined expression, refers to a multiplicity of lines, most of which recreate a dichotomous view of military/local relations, and help to make invisible the complex web of identities that go through, over, and beyond its real and imagined spaces. Working from an understanding that theory must be grounded in experience, this article draws on interviews to explore the multiple meanings of the fence. It focuses on the ways the colonized, militarized, and gendered spaces of the fence promote US values, interests, and security concerns but also mark points of resistance to militarization and colonization. Exploring the ways colonization and militarization are played out on the bodies of those who live and work on the island, the article concludes that tearing down the ‘fence’ must include both demilitarization and decolonization, but in ways that transcend, rather than reproduce its present gendered and dichotomous spaces.

Keywords: Guam, gender, militarization, colonization, Chamoru

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization Regions: Oceania Countries: United States of America

Year: 2016

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