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Dr. Theresa (Isa) Arriola

Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Dr.  Theresa (Isa)  Arriola


Isa Arriola (Chamorro) was born and raised on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. Her life's work has centered on exploring the complexities of social life among the Indigenous Chamorro people, as well as the Refaluwasch community in the Marianas and Micronesia more broadly. Her early research interests were sparked by the concern over the staggeringly high rates of suicide throughout Micronesia. This early interest led her to explore the role of the Marianas in the context of United States imperialism and militarism globally. Isa's dissertation research focused on the complex intersections of militarism, indigeneity and the environment in the Northern Mariana Islands amidst the contemporary restructuring of United States forces in the Asia-Pacific region. Her work draws on the intersection of various fields including: Indigenous Studies, Pacific Island Studies, Anthropology and Political Ecology. As an educator, Isa's research is inextricably linked to her personal commitment to decolonization throughout Oceania. 

Research & Teaching Interests

Isa's research centers Indigenous perspectives and explores the role of indigeneity in the context of imperialism throughout Oceania. Areas of interest: Indigeneity, Sovereignty, Militarization, Oceania, Pacific, Micronesia, Colonialism, Imperialism, Environmental regulation, Environment, Politics of Nature


PhD, University of California at Los Angeles
MA, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
BA, Brown University 

Professional & Community Affiliations

AAA, American Anthropological Association
NAISA, Native American and Indigenous Studies Association
ASAO, Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania 

Chair, Our Common Wealth 670 (Saipan, CNMI)

Teaching activities

Fall 2022

ANTH324 Peoples and Cultures of the Pacific Islands 

Fall 2022

ANTH444 International Indigenism 

Winter 2023

ANTH620 Writing Ethnography

Fall 2021

ANTH398 Critical Indigenous Studies 

Winter 2022

ANTH204 Indigenous Peoples of North America

Winter 2022

ANTH498 Special Topics in Anthropology (Militarization in Oceania) 

Research activities

Presentations & Workshops

2023, Panelist, Marianas for Palestine, "Solidarity & Sovereignty (Palestine, Marianas, Hawai'i & Puerto Rico) Panel 
2023,Panelist, American Association of Geographers "Unsettling the American Lake" Webinar 
2023, Panelist, "Words About War Matter" Language Guide Launch Webinar 
2022 Panelist, CODEPINK "China is Not our Enemy"
2021 Contributor, Humanities Guahan Launch of Unincorporated Magazine 
2021 Closing Keynote, Marianas History Conference 
2020 Panelist, CNMI Women's Summit (Military build-up)
2019 Panel Organizer, National Humanities Conference "What is Micronesia?"
2019 Panelist, American Anthropology Association "Empire: Past is Present"
2019 Discussant, Irregular Ecologies Symposium Rachel Carson Center (RCC) for the Environment
2019 Panelist, Native American & Indigenous Studies Association "Post Which Human? NAIS and Posthumanism" 
2018 Panelist, Race and Pedagogy National Conference 

2018 Discussant, Irregular Ecologies Symposium (Rachel Carson Center (RCC) for the Environment)
2017 Summer Institute on Global Indigeneities (SIGI) Fellow

Current Research Projects

Research on Islandness & Ocean Governance in Oceania

Creative Capsule Residency (Inkstick x Bombshelltoe):
Researching how Pentagon language transforms community perspectives in the Marianas by connecting public policy to community activism.

Building Equity & Alignment for Environmental Justice Grant: Connecting demilitarization to Environmental Justice in the Marianas.

Words About War Matter: A Language Guide to discussing war and foreign policy. 

Feminist Participatory Action Research Grant 2020-2022

Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD): I am currently the chair of Our Common Wealth 670, which was established in 2019. It is an Indigenous and women-led community group in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) which advocates for the de-escalation of militarization throughout the Marianas Archipelago. Our mission is to protect our ancestral lands, seas and skies from irreparable damage caused by military practices and other developments that pose a threat to our health, physical environment and livelihoods by increasing awareness of current military planning and the policies that affect us the most. We are currently implementing community outreach programs, public education and awareness and engagement with environmental planning documents through funding from APWLD, an NGO in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. 

Waterways, Speculative Life Cluster (Milieux Institute) 



Words About War Matter. (2023). A Language Guide for Discussing War and Foreign Policy. URL: 

Arriola, T. & Kaipat, C. (2022). "Everyday Life in an Imperial Archipelago." Affect and Colonialism Weblab. URL:  

Arriola, T. (2022). "Sovereignty and Militarism in the CNMI." Marianas Mosaic. University of Guam Press. 

Arriola, T. (2022). "Beyond the Crossfire: Refusing the Making of a Military Bombing Range in the Northern Mariana Islands." Milieux Institute. Centre Daphne.

Arriola, T. (2022). "
Realistic Island Environments.” Society for Cultural Anthropology, Fieldsites. URL:

Arriola, T. (2021). 
“The Reunification of the Marianas?” Unincorporated: Voting, Voices and Visions para Guåhan, Humanities Guåhan. URL:

Arriola, T. (2021). "Securing Nature: Militarization and the Environment in the Northern Mariana Islands," 
Micronesian Educator. 31. 

Arriola, T. (2020). “Scenes from Everyday Life in the Northern Mariana Islands during the COVID-19 Pandemic," Oceania. DOI: 10.1002/ocea.5264

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