Author, lawyer, and activist Julian Aguon will deliver the 41st Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures — Felled by Beauty: Guam and the End of American Empire. The date is Sunday, October 24th at 3 PM EDT. The free event will be held virtually. Register here.
Aguon’s latest book The Properties of Perpetual Light, is both beautiful and fierce. A moving tribute to the island of Guam – its history, the star-filled sands of its northern beaches, its thick mangrove forests, its richly cultured people. But it is also angry – angry at the loss of species vanquished by the invasive brown snake, angry at the silencing of native language, angry at the continued occupation by U.S. troops, angry at the lack of sovereignty.
We place our dreams in boxes, seal them shut, and shelve them somewhere just out of sight. Maybe that’s what colonialism looks like: Dreams Under Duct Tape.
It is an intimate book. At times addressing the reader directly. At times capturing the peculiar joy of a child.
In each of you, there is a whisper that speaks of a special, unduplicated gift that you alone possess and are meant to bring forth into the world. Attend to that whisper. Jesus said: If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you. I dare to add—if you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save other people, too.
It is a book that aches with longing for Guam, his island home.
We know how critical it is our coral reefs stay healthy and our mangrove forest dense. We will defend them to the end not because some study shows they provide protection from erosion or shelter from storms but because our reefs are adoring aunts feeding other people’s children and our mangroves, mothers in their own right.
Ultimately it is a book filled “with the burden of unrequited questions.”
In addition to his accomplishments as an author, Julian Aguon is the visionary lawyer behind Blue Ocean Law, a progressive firm that works at the intersection of Indigenous rights and environmental justice. The firm develops innovative legal strategies to advance the self-determination struggles of native and non-self-governing peoples. His projects include working with the Marshall Islands to seek redress for the harms of nuclear testing and non-consensual medical experimentation, defending the fundamental right of self-determination of the native inhabitants of Guam before U.S. federal courts, and developing legal strategies to hold countries and corporations accountable for their contributions to climate change. He serves on the Council of Progressive International—a global collective that launched in May 2020 to mobilize progressive forces around the world behind a shared vision of social justice.
Julian Aguon will be introduced by Naomi Klein, who wrote about The Properties of Perpetual Light: “I did not know I needed this book until it had me in its embrace like the oldest and dearest of friends, from the very first page.”
Perhaps the highest praise for Julian Aguon comes from a fellow Pacific Islander, Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, author of Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter, who says, “Aguon is one of Oceania’s most important thinkers who uses his ability to see through complicated systems to fight for our islands and peoples. With razor sharp analysis and a ton of heart, he both defends and calls forth our communities.”
Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad is an indigenous CHamoru who has championed the exposure of the human rights violations against her people and homeland Guahan, a military colony of the United States. Dr. Natividad is a Professor of Social Work at the University of Guam, the primary convener of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice, and a founding member of I Hagan Famalao’an Guahan. She has spoken globally on the topics of demilitarization, decolonization, and the critical role women play in the creation of safe and thriving communities.
Mark your calendar for October 24th at 3 PM EDT and join us for the 41st Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures.