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NFIP operates on the premise that whatever happens in one part of the Pacifi c Ocean aff ects the whole ocean, the continentals living on the edge of it, and the Islanders living in the midst of it.53 Since the nuclear specter fi rst appeared in the Pacifi c—Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and Bikini in 1946—it has spread its poison at an alarming rate.

Th e biggest stumbling block for Pacifi c Islanders in lobbying interna- tionally is that they constitute a very small portion of the world’s popu- lation. By 1986 statistics, the total population of the Pacifi c Islands was 4,952,470.54 Th e size of Bikini Atoll’s population was a signifi cant factor in making it a site for nuclear testing. When addressing the future of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacifi c Islands in 1969, Henry Kissinger made a comment for which he has become notorious in the Pacifi c: “Th ere are only 90,000 people out there. Who gives a damn?”55

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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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26 · TERESIA K. TEAIWA

Th is is all about bodies—but vastly diff erent ways of fi nding meaning in bodies. Th ere are more bikinis being sold globally every summer than there are Bikinians receiving compensation for dislocation and exposure to radioactivity. While practically every slick nightclub in Waikīkī holds a weekly bikini contest, the NFIP movement organizes annual com- memorative and educational events on March 1, which is designated Bi- kini Day.

S/pacific N/oceans

What are we to make of these bizarre juxtapositions? Th e bomb and the bikini remind us of the militarist and tourist notions that shaped a partic- ular historical moment in the West and continue to shape the contempo- rary Pacifi c Islands. At their inception, the bomb and the bikini refl ected a supreme ambivalence in Western thought: the valorization of woman as nature, the abom(b)ination of nature manifested by military and scientifi c technology, the naturalization of racial diff erence, and the feminization or domestication of military technology. How else can we explain the infl ux of images of women as sex symbols, the persistent development of nuclear weapons technology, the racist paternalism toward colonies and territo- ries, and the psychological domestication of nuclear technology except as a peculiarity of Western culture and history? More to the point, how are we to deal with this peculiarity? I am tempted to conclude this chapter with a simple demand for a moratorium on the production and display of bikini bathing suits to coincide with a moratorium on the production and testing of nuclear weapons. But while I do believe that such a demand is warranted, the more immediate purpose of this particular academic expo- sition is to develop a critical understanding of cultural artifacts and repre- sentations of the Pacifi c Islands.

Military, economic, racialized, and gendered histories converge in the bikini bathing suit with far-reaching ideological and material implica- tions. In this chapter I have attempted to explore and elucidate some of these implications by selectively applying Marxist, psychoanalytic, and feminist theories. Marxism and Freudian psychoanalysis are particularly illuminating lenses through which to view commodities or fetishes like the bomb and the bikini. Feminist approaches provide a crucial critique of the gendered social relations, representations, and audience reception that surround the bikini’s particular history. But although they may eff ectively

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 · 27

describe processes of violence and commodifi cation, largely Eurocentric theories must remain ornamental to narratives that interrupt dominant historical and cultural constructions of islands as military bases and tour- ist sites.

Faced with a thesis as disturbing as the bomb and the bikini’s erasure of specifi c (Bikini) Islander history, I have had to acknowledge both de- structive and life-sustaining histories. Th e Bikinians and other Marshal- lese Islanders are at a distinct disadvantage in negotiating terms with the U.S. government. Remembering and rearticulating the history of Bikin- ians’ forced migration and exile is a beginning form of resistance to the ideology that created both the bomb and the bikini. I believe that the hope for most specifi c Islanders is in collective resistance to military and tour- ist encroachments; this is why I have retold a history of the NFIP move- ment. With its commitment to indigenous rights and support from and for women’s organizations, the movement embodies a history that radi- cally challenges military and, especially, tourist notions of the island Pa- cifi c’s signifi cance. NFIP’s history is informed by what I call “s/pacifi c n/oceans”—an explicitly politicized version of what some call the “Pacifi c Way.” S/pacifi c n/oceans honor the specifi cities of Islander experience, recognize the generic eff ects of (neo)colonialism on all Islanders, and are committed to political and cultural cooperation at the regional level. Together the histories of specifi c islands and s/pacifi c n/oceans surround cultural artifacts and representations of the Pacifi c and erod

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