Between 1944 and 1949 the United States Navy held a war crimes tribunal that tried Japanese nationals and members of Guam's indigenous Chamorro population who had worked for Japan's military government. In Sacred Men Keith L. Camacho traces the tribunal's legacy and its role in shaping contemporary domestic and international laws regarding combatants, jurisdiction, and property. Drawing on Giorgio Agamben's notions of bare life and Chamorro concepts of retribution, Camacho demonstrates how the U.S. tribunal used and justified imprisonment, torture, murder, and exiling of accused Japanese and Chamorro war criminals in order to institute a new American political order. This U.S. disciplinary logic in Guam, Camacho contends, continues to directly inform the ideology used to justify the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the torture and enhanced interrogation of enemy combatants, and the American carceral state.
“Sacred Men is a truly singular work of immense importance. It is original, compelling, and fiercely thought-provoking. Through a theoretical engagement with the Chamorro, Rotanese, and Saipanese indigenous epistemologies, Keith L. Camacho has brought the discussion of U.S. empire, law, sovereignty, militarism, and the working of carceral power to an entirely new horizon in ways no other scholar has done. A pathbreaking, field-shifting intervention.”
Lisa Yoneyama, author of
Cold War Ruins: Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes
“Exceedingly engaging, theoretically accomplished, and incisively researched, Sacred Men unravels the 1944 U.S. military tribunal in Guam, which included the prosecution and torture of Chamorro indigenes. Employing Agamben's homo sacer, Keith L. Camacho provides a razor-sharp analysis of the tribunal as a very real ‘bare life’ event but also as a metaphor for the murder, torture and foreclosure of political life that has occurred throughout the colonies as ‘states of exception.’”
Brendan Hokowhitu, coeditor of
The Fourth Eye: Maori Media in Aotearoa New Zealand