PARADOX OF A PARADISE: Exploring the Entangled Roles of Militarism and Tourism on the Island of Guam

In this presentation, I will begin by sharing my font design experiments which visualize the United States-driven cultural assimilation that has been taking place in/on the island of Guam since the mid-twentieth century, when the island first became a U.S. territory. I focus on the United States as Guam is at present a U.S. territory, and arguably a present-day military/naval colony. After I establish a visual representation of cultural assimilation caused by the rise in militarism on the island, I briefly touch upon Guam’s military history with the United States, particularly why islanders initially welcomed the U.S. as a governing power. Then, I summarize reasons how the U.S.’s power became an economic stronghold on the island which ultimately ushered in the emergence of the island’s main, present-day export, tourism, starting in the 1970’s. Once upon the topic of tourism, I lead into the relevancy of the island’s present-day issues to the study of Tourism Futures. Examples of Tourism Futures taking places on Guam will be prefaced with how militarism and tourism economically supported each other immediately before the pandemic, then I explain how the codependency of these industries on each other lead to major economic shortcomings in the wake of COVID-19. Finally, I conclude the presentation with concrete examples of Tourism Futures through newspaper and social media stories of various business ventures cropping up to revive the island’s post-pandemic economy and to highlight dissatisfaction with the military industrial complex on the island led by an indigenous movement aimed at restructuring the Guam’s economic dependency on militarism and advocating for an overwhelming desire to exercise political self-determination.