Militarized landscapes in the island Pacific

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Conference Proceeding

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U.S. military bases in Hawai`i, American Samoa, and Guam have become dominant eco-nomic and environmental forces in the Island Pacific. Beginning with naval interests in Pearl Harbor (Hawai`i) and Pago Pago Harbor (Samoa) in the late 19th century, and then Guam after World War II, Americans have increased their presence in these island socie-ties to occupy large sectors of island resources. Significant portions of land, freshwater systems, and ocean environments are devoted to training, target practice, and housing urban military communities. The environmental consequences of American military do-minion have precipitated the response and criticism of environmental and indigenous groups, especially in Hawai`i and Guam.

After providing a brief history of U.S. military expansion into Pacific island landscapes, this paper explores two topics: the nature of militarization of island landscapes; and the case of militarization of Hawaiian environments. Drawing upon previous research into the environmental history of Hawai`i, the author explores the concept of “militariza-tion” from an anthropological perspective as an ongoing historical process. Militari-zation goes beyond environmental impacts, as it redefines property relations, reor-ganizes ecologies, and establishes regimes of authority over environments based upon values that promote national security and organized violence. The paper then explores the recent expansion of war-making in Hawai`i and the efforts of native Hawaiians in collaboration with environmental organizations to contain 84AbstractsAbstracts85Abstractsmilitary boundaries and challenge military training venues. This movement, begun in the 1980s to end naval bombardment of Kaho’olawe, continues today on O`ahu, Kaua`i, Maui, and Hawai`i Islands. Further, it has become a model for indigenous protest over current plans to relocate military facilities from Okinawa to Guam.

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European Society for Environment History Sixth Annual Conference Website:

Publication Title

Encounters of Sea and Landthe 6th ESEH Conference