Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Los Angeles, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9393
Approve DateApril 18, 2017
Project TitleArriola, Theresa H., U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'Securing Nature: Militarization, Indigeneity and the Environment in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands,' supervised by Dr. Jessica Cattelino
THERESA H. ARRIOLA, then a graduate student at University of California, Los Angeles, California, was awarded a grant in April 2017 to aid research on ‘Securing Nature: Militarization, Indigeneity and the Environment in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands,’ supervised by Dr. Jessica Cattelino. In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), there are at least two groups of people with privileged claims to the islands’ territory: The U.S. Military and indigenous Chamorro and Refaluwasch peoples. As the longest colonized islands in the Pacific, nestled among some of the most bio-diverse waters in the world, the CNMI is an exemplary site of the intersections between militarism, indigeneity and the environment. The U.S. military retains certain legal rights over the islands-including the adjacent sea and air space-and conducts weapons testing and maneuvers such as live-fire exercises, and chemical and munitions testing. At the same time, the CNMI’s constitution grants Chamorro’s and Refaluwash peoples’ legal rights over the ownership and sale of their land and restricts non-indigenous ownership and sale, as a way to ensure that this territory remains in the hands of indigenous people. Increasingly, both groups of indigenous peoples and the military articulate territorial claims in terms of “the environment”–stewardship, conservation, and protection for future generations. Through the use of long-term ethnographic research, this project charts how militarism influences everyday understandings of the environment in the Marianas archipelago, by actively shaping the parameters of environmental assessment processes. In doing so, it highlights the incommensurability of indigenous and militarized understandings of the environment in the context of U.S. imperialism in the Pacific.