By Jesi Lujan Bennett, CPIS MA Student
On February 28, the Center for Biographical Research and CPIS cosponsored the lunchtime brownbag “Life Writing and Pacific Islands Studies: Student Perspectives.” Aiko Yamashiro, moderator and English PhD candidate, proposed the session to provide Pacific Islander students an opportunity to examine how their lived experiences influence their academic work. Kenneth Gofigan Kuper and Jesi Lujan Bennett, CPIS MA students, spoke from a Chamorro perspective. Gofigan Kuper discussed dealing with Chamorro language oppression within the Mariana Islands and his journey to fight for language revitalization. Lujan Bennett spoke from her background as a native woman raised in the Chamorro diaspora. She discussed her family’s migration story and San Diego’s Chamorro community through the lens of militarization. Leonard Leon, a student in the Academy for Creative Media and the Anthropology Department, discussed his experiences as a Marshallese man dealing with identity politics and authenticity in the Marshall Islands, Saipan, and Hawaiʻi. The panelists presented complementary stories about how they keep their indigenous perspective in the forefront of their research.