Date of Award

5-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

BS

Department

Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work

Faculty Mentor

Mark Moberg

Abstract

During the twentieth century, indigenous islanders across the world were forcibly removed from their native lands by Western powers for militarily advantageous reasons. The Bikinians’ removal is the most notorious case of military forced displacement, but many other island communities faced the same fate during the superpower struggles of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. This study analyzes two documented cases of military expulsions of indigenous islanders, the Bikinians and the Chagossians. I created a matrix analyzing the common cultural experiences shared by both communities as a result of their expulsions and how those effects persist today. The cultural experiences shared between both indigenous communities, relating to their identity, desires, and perceptions of the event, show many similarities are shared with others removed from their native islands. The list of common cultural experiences include shifts in self-perception and identity, marginalization in society, idealization of the homeland, desire for reparations, suffering and neglect at hands of the military forces, lack of sovereignty, issues with rights to return or ownership of native lands, and pursuit of legal resolution. I then discuss two other cases, the Chamorro removal from native lands in Guam and the Aleuts’ expulsion from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, to discuss their effects from militarily forced displacements. All communities share these experiences to some degree. By analyzing these similarities, this study will provide the basis for creating a compendium of military forced displacements during the twentieth century. This compendium can not only be used to further investigate the effects of forced displacements, but also allow affected communities and scholars to discuss the issues of land rights, sovereignty, indigenous identity, and cultural change that still persists today as result of these events.

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