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How can we think about the longstanding, diverse, irreversible, and invisible/suffocating relationship between “America” and the Pacific? This chapter proposes that the nonbiodegradable debris that floats in the North Pacific known as the “great Pacific garbage patch” is an archipelagic metaphor by which we can attempt to articulate this relationship and make visible its two-way flows: US empire in the Pacific region, and Pacific diasporas in the United States. Drawing on scientific and journalistic discussions of the garbage patch itself, alongside a reading of the patriotic poem “America the Beautiful” and treatment of Maori migrations to the United States, the chapter foregrounds the relationship between visibility and presence.

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