Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism

Duke University Press
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In Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty J. Kēhaulani Kauanui examines contradictions of indigeneity and self-determination in U.S. domestic policy and international law. She theorizes paradoxes in the laws themselves and in nationalist assertions of Hawaiian Kingdom restoration and demands for U.S. deoccupation, which echo colonialist models of governance. Kauanui argues that Hawaiian elites' approaches to reforming and regulating land, gender, and sexuality in the early nineteenth century that paved the way for sovereign recognition of the kingdom complicate contemporary nationalist activism today, which too often includes disavowing the indigeneity of the Kanaka Maoli (Indigenous Hawaiian) people. Problematizing the ways the positing of the Hawaiian Kingdom's continued existence has been accompanied by a denial of U.S. settler colonialism, Kauanui considers possibilities for a decolonial approach to Hawaiian sovereignty that would address the privatization and capitalist development of land and the ongoing legacy of the imposition of heteropatriarchal modes of social relations.
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About the author

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui is Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University, author of Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity, also published by Duke University Press, and editor of Speaking of Indigenous Politics: Conversations with Activists, Scholars, and Tribal Leaders.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Sep 27, 2018
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9780822371960
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / State & Local / West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY)
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Native American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) of 1921, the U.S. Congress defined “native Hawaiians” as those people “with at least one-half blood quantum of individuals inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778.” This “blood logic” has since become an entrenched part of the legal system in Hawai‘i. Hawaiian Blood is the first comprehensive history and analysis of this federal law that equates Hawaiian cultural identity with a quantifiable amount of blood. J. Kēhaulani Kauanui explains how blood quantum classification emerged as a way to undermine Native Hawaiian (Kanaka Maoli) sovereignty. Within the framework of the 50-percent rule, intermarriage “dilutes” the number of state-recognized Native Hawaiians. Thus, rather than support Native claims to the Hawaiian islands, blood quantum reduces Hawaiians to a racial minority, reinforcing a system of white racial privilege bound to property ownership.

Kauanui provides an impassioned assessment of how the arbitrary correlation of ancestry and race imposed by the U.S. government on the indigenous people of Hawai‘i has had far-reaching legal and cultural effects. With the HHCA, the federal government explicitly limited the number of Hawaiians included in land provisions, and it recast Hawaiians’ land claims in terms of colonial welfare rather than collective entitlement. Moreover, the exclusionary logic of blood quantum has profoundly affected cultural definitions of indigeneity by undermining more inclusive Kanaka Maoli notions of kinship and belonging. Kauanui also addresses the ongoing significance of the 50-percent rule: Its criteria underlie recent court decisions that have subverted the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and brought to the fore charged questions about who counts as Hawaiian.

“A lesson in how to practice recognizing the fundamental truth that every inch of the Americas is Indigenous territory” —Robert Warrior, from the Foreword

Many people learn about Indigenous politics only through the most controversial and confrontational news: the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s efforts to block the Dakota Access Pipeline, for instance, or the battle to protect Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, a site sacred to Native peoples. But most Indigenous activism remains unseen in the mainstream—and so, of course, does its significance. J. Kēhaulani Kauanui set out to change that with her radio program Indigenous Politics. Issue by issue, she interviewed people who talked candidly and in an engaging way about how settler colonialism depends on erasing Native peoples and about how Native peoples can and do resist. Collected here, these conversations speak with clear and compelling voices about a range of Indigenous politics that shape everyday life.

Land desecration, treaty rights, political status, cultural revitalization: these are among the themes taken up by a broad cross-section of interviewees from across the United States and from Canada, Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Australia, and New Zealand. Some speak from the thick of political action, some from a historical perspective, others from the reaches of Indigenous culture near and far. Writers, like Comanche Paul Chaat Smith, author of Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong, expand on their work—about gaming and sovereignty, for example, or protecting Native graves, the reclamation of land, or the erasure of Indian identity. These conversations both inform and engage at a moment when their messages could not be more urgent.

Contributors: Jessie Little Doe Baird (Mashpee Wampanoag), Omar Barghouti, Lisa Brooks (Abenaki), Kathleen A. Brown-Pérez (Brothertown Indian Nation), Margaret “Marge” Bruchac (Abenaki), Jessica Cattelino, David Cornsilk (Cherokee Nation), Sarah Deer (Muskogee Creek Nation), Philip J. Deloria (Dakota), Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga Nation), Hone Harawira (Ngapuhi Nui Tonu), Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee), Rashid Khalidi, Winona LaDuke (White Earth Ojibwe), Maria LaHood, James Luna (Luiseño), Aileen Moreton-Robinson (Quandamooka), Chief Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba (Mohegan), Steven Newcomb (Shawnee/Lenape), Jean M. O’Brien (White Earth Ojibwe), Jonathan Kamakawiwo‘ole Osorio (Kanaka Maoli), Steven Salaita, Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche), Circe Sturm (Mississippi Choctaw descendant), Margo Taméz (Lipan Apache), Chief Richard Velky (Schaghticoke), Patrick Wolfe. 

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