Mothers’ Darlings of the South Pacific: The Children of Indigenous Women and U.S. Servicemen, World War II

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, History, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2016-08-17 01:50Z by Steven

Mothers’ Darlings of the South Pacific: The Children of Indigenous Women and U.S. Servicemen, World War II

University Of Hawai’i Press
April 2016
424 pages
95 b&w illustrations
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8248-5152-1

Edited by:

Judith A. Bennett, Professor of History
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Angela Wanhalla, Associate Professor of History
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Like a human tsunami, World War II brought two million American servicemen to the South Pacific where they left a human legacy of some thousands of children. Mothers’ Darlings of the South Pacific traces the intimate relationships that existed in the wartime South Pacific between U.S. servicemen and Indigenous women, and considers the fate of the resulting children. The American military command carefully managed intimate relationships in the Pacific Theater, applying U.S. immigration law based on race on Pacific peoples of color to prevent marriage “across the color line.” For Indigenous women and their American servicemen sweethearts, legal marriage was impossible, giving rise to a generation of children known as “G.I. Babies.” Among these Pacific war children, one thing common to almost all is the longing to know more about their American father. Mothers’ Darlings of the South Pacific traces these children’s stories of loss, emotion, longing, and identity, and of lives lived in the shadow of global war.

This book considers the way these relationships developed in the major U.S. bases of the South Pacific Command from Bora Bora in the east across to Solomon Islands in the west, and from the Gilbert Islands in the north to New Zealand, in the southernmost region of the Pacific. Some chapters consider in-depth case studies of the life trajectories of one or two people; others are more of a group portrait. Each discusses the context of the particular island societies and how this often determined the way such intimate relationships developed and were accommodated during the war years and beyond.

The writers interviewed many of the children of the Americans and some of the few surviving mothers as well as others who recalled the wartime presence in their islands. Oral histories reveal what the records of colonial governments and the military largely have ignored, providing a perspective on the effects of the U.S. occupation that until now has been disregarded by historians of the Pacific war. The richness of this book should appeal to those interested the Pacific, World War II, as well as intimacy, family, race relations, colonialism, identity, and the legal structures of U.S. immigration.

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Pacific children of US servicemen for study

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Oceania on 2011-11-21 01:10Z by Steven

Pacific children of US servicemen for study

Otago Daily Times
University of Otago, New Zealand

Allison Rudd

World War 2 brought two million United States servicemen to New Zealand and many Pacific Islands. Inevitably, many formed liaisons with local women and fathered possibly several thousand children. What happened to those babies, and, more than 60 years later, where are they now? Allison Rudd talks to University of Otago historian Prof Judith Bennett, who has won funding to try and trace the all-but forgotten offspring.

Judith Bennett was doing some research when she got sidetracked.

She was compiling information for a book on the environmental effect of the war on Pacific Island countries when she came across references to the mixed-race children of local women and United States servicemen.

Her interest was piqued.

“I was very curious because I could find very little on this topic.

“So it seemed to me there were questions that needed to be answered: How were these children accepted?

“Did their parentage affect their land rights?

“Did it affect their marriage prospects?

“How were their mothers characterised in their own societies?

“How did the US Government view marriage?

“How did the indigenous people view these relationships?

“Were they profitable, were they shameful, or were they a mixture?

“What have been the long-term effects of mixed parentage?

“These children would have looked different – their fathers were white or African American.

“What impact did that have on them as they were growing up and when they were adults?”

Now Prof Bennett hopes to satisfy her curiosity, having secured a $917,000 Marsden grant to embark on a three-year research project…

Read the entire article here.

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