5th Marianas History Conference Day 7 - 10

Page 175

Guam 1668-1769

Cultural Change and Cultural Continuity in the Jesuit Mission

By Dr. Sandra Montón-Subías

Dept. d’Humanitats, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08005 Barcelona, Spain, ICREA, Pg. Lluís Companys 23, 08010 Barcelona, Spain.

Abstract: In this paper, I will present the theoretical background of the archaeological project Aberigua (Archaeologies of Cultural Contact and Colonialism in Guam). This project investigates processes of cultural change and continuity associated to the incorporation of Guam and the Mariana islands by the colonial network of the Spanish empire. Although focus is on Jesuit missions, the project embraces previous and posterior chronologies to understand colonial impacts in their full magnitude. Stress is placed on gender construction and maintenance activities, a concept born in Spanish feminist archaeology to highlight the foregrounding nature of a set of recurrent daily practices — such as care-giving, food-processing, textile manufacture, hygiene, health and healing, the socialization of children, or the arrangement of living spaces — that are essential to social stability, continuity and wellbeing. Maintenance activities were clearly endeavoured by Jesuit policies to colonize indigenous lifeways and subjectivities, but they also worked as reservoirs of traditional knowledge. I will use textile manufacture and bodily habits as a case example.


In this article, I will discuss processes of cultural change and persistence in Guam during the Spanish colonization of the Marianas archipelago. I will focus on maintenance activities and textile manufacture, one of the research lines open by the research project Aberigua. This is a project aimed at understanding the case-specific details of the colonial strategies implemented in the Mariana Islands in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the subsequent CHamoru native responses, including processes of cultural change and cultural continuity. Aberigua is inspired by feminist and anti-, post-, and de-colonial critiques to modern colonialism and the practice of archaeology itself. To understand the impact that modern colonialism (and Catholic missions as part of it) had on local people, we believe it is necessary to pay attention to quotidian life, material culture, and the body. We also believe it is important to have in mind ontological diversity and to be careful to not project Eurocentric patriarchal values into the past.

Within Aberigua, we pay specific attention to Maintenance Activities, which is a concept born in Spanish feminist archaeology to highlight the foregrounding nature of a set of routine practices — such as basic cooking and food processing, basic textile manufacture, the