My dissertation War Memories, Imperial Ambitions: Commemorating WWII in the U.S. Pacific National Park System examines WWII National Park sites across five US states and territories in and around the Pacific World. Part I focuses on the work of WWII commemoration in securing US occupation in its territories through analyzing War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam, and American Memorial Park in Saipan. Part II considers the three states - Hawai’i, California, Alaska - included in the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, and how the different interpretive frameworks highlight American suffering and sacrifice in service to larger values of nation, citizenship, and belonging. In my research I follow questions of the role of land use in state memory. In the dissertation I argue that the National Park Service, as a cultural, natural, and historical preservation agency, conceals the militaristic and occupational power of the state through the state’s insinuation into a purportedly civilian institution.
Prior to my dissertation I began research on a project on the military legacy of Angel Island State Park, which I am now developing into an article titled "Race, Empire, and Memory in Interpreting Angel Island State Park's Military and Immigrant Mobilities." In this project I examine how the US military's history on Angel Island is represented to the public through interpretive displays, living history re-enactments, and architectural ruins. In conjunction with field work and publicly available materials, my research is based on archival work at the California State Library, California State Archives, and the California State Department of Parks and Recreation Archives. In the essay, I bring together three historical periods on the island -- Civil War, Immigration, and WWII -- to argue that, while the island's interpretation focuses on life on the island, the island itself is part of a broader network and history of American security based on militarization and immigrant exclusion.
My background and training in History, Environmental Studies, American Studies, and Cultural Studies has led me to consider questions about historical and contemporary relationships of places. Broadly, my focus on the American West and Pacific World in the 19th and 20th Centuries stems from my interests in critically examining American Empire and expansion, and the militarized legacy that it has left behind on landscapes and peoples. Additionally, I incorporate resources from Rhetorical Studies and Memory Studies to analyze the cultural products of places, including tourist sites, literary and visual texts, state and national parks, and monuments and memorials, alongside their attendant archives. Across all my research sites I ask: what is the relationship between land use and memory? And how do those memories benefit the state and other forms of institutionalized power?