Colonial Dis-Ease: U.S. Navy Health Policies and the Chamorros of Guam, 1898–1941
264pp. August 2004
Colonial Dis-Ease: U.S. Navy Health Policies and the Chamorros of Guam, 1898–1941
Author: Hattori, Anne Perez;
A variety of cross-cultural collisions and collusions—sometimes amusing, sometimes tragic, but always complex—resulted from the U.S. Navy’s introduction of Western health and sanitation practices to Guam’s native population. In Colonial Dis-Ease, Anne Perez Hattori examines early twentieth-century U.S. military colonialism through the lens of Western medicine and its cultural impact on the Chamorro people. In four case studies, Hattori considers the histories of Chamorro leprosy patients exiled to Culion Leper Colony in the Philippines, hookworm programs for children, the regulation of native midwives and nurses, and the creation and operation of the Susana Hospital for women and children.

Changes to Guam’s traditional systems of health and hygiene placed demands not only on Chamorro bodies, but also on their cultural values, social relationships, political controls, and economic expectations. Hattori effectively demonstrates that the new health projects signified more than a benevolent interest in hygiene and the philanthropic sharing of medical knowledge. Rather the navy’s health care regime in Guam was an important vehicle through which U.S. colonial power and moral authority over Chamorros was introduced and entrenched. Medical experts, navy doctors, and health care workers asserted their scientific knowledge as well as their administrative might and in the process became active participants in the colonization of Guam.
Pacific Islands Monograph Series No. 19
Center for Pacific Islands Studies, UH
“The real strength of this work is Hattori’s interrogation of colonial discourse about medical issues on Guam through a multitude of Chamorro experiences and voices. Careful to avoid a ‘binary opposition’ between the US military personnel and administration versus the Chamorros (a common pitfall of comparable literature), she demonstrates the variety and complexity of Chamorro negotiations of military health and sanitation—that is, colonial—impositions.” —The Contemporary Pacific 61 (2006) (Access full review at Project Muse)
Author: Hattori, Anne Perez;
Anne Perez Hattori is professor of Pacific history at the University of Guam.
Read the introduction (PDF).

Photo: Schoolchildren lining up for annual hookworm treatment (Collection of the Pedro C. Sanchez family)