Reimagining Chamoru Womanhood in the Decolonization of Guahan
By Ha’åni San Nicolas
University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
Abstract: In 2018, the slogan “The Future is Famalao’an” became popularized as Guåhan welcomed its first elected maga’håga and celebrated the first legislative woman majority in the history of the United States. Though famalao’an are an undoubtedly primary pillar of kostumbren Chamoru, their lived experiences remain largely hidden in history and scholarly works. The decolonization movement has been organized and continues to be spearheaded by many powerful women leaders, yet discussions of a famalao’an future, particularly what it necessitates and entails, are too often neglected. This paper looks at how the contemporary conception of Chamoru womanhood, though empowering to many, has coalesced with colonialism in a manner that denies womanhood outside a heteronormative and catholic performance of motherhood. It explores alternative famalao’an futures through analyses of Kåntan Chamorrita and contemporary Chamoru poetry as a way to reimagine womanhood. Most significantly, this paper invites all famalao’an to join in cultivating possibilities for our liberation. What happens when famalao’an refuse to uphold the strict heteronormative and colonial introductions of women as mothers, something so deeply embedded within our culture? What space will we claim in a decolonized Guåhan, and what will that look like, act like, and mean?