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As tourism has become a primary industry for many of the postcolonial Pacifi c Island nations, Islanders are increasingly exposed to sun-seeking and seminude “First-Worlders.” In general, Islanders are wryly amused by con- temporary Euro-Americans’ various states of undress: “It’s an irony that the white man who came to us puritanically stiff and overdressed, now wears hardly anything on the beach on a summer day or on a Sunday aft ernoon. He has even gone further that that: he now streaks through the streets or the parks in America or Europe, and some countries plan to set aside certain areas and beaches for nudists only . . . So who is playing naked now? I hope we have taught the white man a lesson in innocence and healthy living!”47 Most Islanders, infl uenced by Christian modesty, wear bathing suits that are considerably more voluminous than the bikini. Th e lavalava, pareo, shorts and a T-shirt, and even dresses (for women), rather than the bikini, are the most common attire for Islanders at the beach.

In a tourist economy, the beach becomes the principal site of leisure— and a clichéd backdrop for bikini-clad tourists. Of course, tourism also aff ects Islanders’ perceptions of themselves and their environment, and increasing numbers of upwardly mobile Islanders—especially in Fiji, Hawai‘i, and Tahiti—may be seen lounging leisurely on the beach in their bikinis. Th ere is a bitter irony in the transformation of the beach and the production of the bikini, for in Marshallese “bikini” means “beach,” and for the Bikini Islanders the beach was the space they crossed to surrender their island for the nuclear tests of the United States.48

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Organized protest against nuclear testing in the Pacifi c began in 1970 when the Committee Against Tests on Moruroa (ATOM) was formed in Suva, Fiji. Its membership came from the Pacifi c Th eological College, the University of the South Pacifi c, and the Fiji Young Women’s Chris- tian Association. When ATOM organized the fi rst Nuclear Free Pacifi c conference in Suva in 1975, the Pacifi c Conference of Churches was its principal cosponsor.

NFIP gained momentum with subsequent conferences in various is- land states: Pohnpei in 1978, Hawai‘i in 1980, and Vanuatu in 1983, the

Shigematsu, S., & Camacho, K. L. (Eds.). (2010). Militarized currents : Toward a decolonized future in asia and the pacific. University of Minnesota Press. Created from sfsu on 2022-10-21 03:56:35.

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BIKINIS AND OTHER S/PACIFIC N/OCEANS · 25

most recent being held in Suva in 1991.49 A loosely organized information and lobbying network, NFIP encompasses trade unions, private aid or- ganizations, environmentalists, disarmament lobbies, women’s collectives, and Christian groups.50 Australian scholar Stewart Firth described its suc- cesses in his book Nuclear Playground:

Its lobbying has helped dissuade the Japanese, so far, from dump- ing radioactive waste in the deep ocean trenches off the Northern Mariana Islands in the northern Pacifi c; and because of the move- ment’s complaints, the military forces of Australia and Japan no longer bombard the island of Kaho‘olawe during annual exercises with the Americans, in deference to the cultural signifi cance of the island to native Hawaiians. Who would have predicted in 1980 that within six years the independent countries of the South Pacifi c would be seeking to establish a nuclear free zone? Or that the ANZUS Treaty would be in abeyance because the New Zealanders refused to be defended by nuclear weapons? Or that the forces in favour of the nuclear free constitution in Belau would have resisted the U.S.A. for so long?51

NFIP has adopted a radical platform that advocates independence and sovereignty movements in the Pacifi c. Th ese include supporting the Kanak independence struggle in the French colony of New Caledonia and opposing the Indonesian government’s policy of transmigration and genocide in its colony, West Papua.52

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