Negotiating the borders of empire
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Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, is the site of a U.S. Army missile testing base, where colonial relationships between Americans and Marshallese were examined through the analysis of physical, regulatory, cultural and discursive borders on the atoll. Ethnographic attention was focused on both local Marshallese and on American contract workers in this border situation. Findings include significant ambivalence and tensions among Americans, especially between military and civilian actors, regarding the U.S. colonial project on Kwajalein. In addition to Marshallese resistance to the military order, some American residents also resist the physical and regulatory borders that structure their everyday lives. It also becomes evident that discursive constructions of borders and relationships on the atoll have served to obscure other inequalities, and simplify a complex atoll history. Borders emerge as key sites at which to examine the tensions and power dynamics of colonial relationships.