U.S. Settler Colonialism in Ka Pae ʻĀina Hawaiʻi

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

Settler colonialism is a specific form of colonial domination enacted to replace the original population(s) of the colonized territory with a new society of settlers whose aim is to expropriate the land for themselves as they aim to eliminate and replace the Indigenous peoples. The analytic emerges from critiques of settler colonial domination and the insufficiency of other analytical frames – such as franchise colonialism and postcolonialism, which emerge from classic “Third World” historical experiences and case studies, including the liberation struggles in those contexts that fought for decolonization in the form of establishing independent nation-states. In contrast, Indigenous peoples are still-colonized in the “Fourth World.” First Nations leader George Manuel (Neskonlith Indian Band of the Shuswap Nation) coined the term Fourth World to name the condititon of Indigenous peoples who are deprived of the right to their own territories and its resources. Hence, the study of settler colonialism is inextricably related to the expansive fields of Native American and Indigenous studies, including Hawaiian studies. Settler colonial studies is not a monolithic field, for many reasons, including that the field has more than one origin point, in terms of time and space, as well as history and geography.

The field of settler colonial studies has multiple genealogies. For example, one can also trace an early theorization of settler colonization emerging from the Palestinian context through the work of Fayez Sayegh in his 1965 work on Israeli settler colonialism, Zionist Colonialism in Palestine, which he produced while serving on the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Since then, works about Palestine have employed the settler colonial analytic, although – as in other contexts – there is wide variation in how individuals deploy the concept to refer to distinct political projects. There are very different definitions of settler colonialism at play in settler colonial studies, and multiple ways of doing scholarship within the field, which is not something that is always clear in debates regarding either settler colonialism itself or settler colonial studies. Some use the concept to describe any colony with European settlers, rather than a specifically land-centered project that operates through the logic of elimination, as Patrick Wolfe theorizes.

In the Hawaiian context, in 2000, Haunani-Kay Trask theorized the concepts of ‘settlers of color’ and ‘immigrant hegemony’ in Hawai‘i, challenging the category of ‘local’ as an identity claim. Focusing on Asians (particularly Japanese) in Hawai‘i, Trask theorizes their complicity with settler colonial structures of domination that subordinate Kanaka Maoli. Her pathbreaking work appeared in a special issue of Amerasia Journal, co-edited by Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Okamura, which explores the colonial ideologies and practices of Asian Americans as settlers who support the broader structure of the U.S. settler colonial state. Over the past two decades, a plethora of work has contributed to what is now a rich field unto itself – Asian settler colonial studies.

Pertinent Texts

"Settlers of Color and “Immigrant” Hegemony,” Haunani-Kay Trask (Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawaii)

“Introduction,” Candace Fujikane (Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawaii)

“Colliding Histories: Hawai‘i Statehood at the Intersection of Asians “Ineligible to Citizenship” and Hawaiians “Unfit for Self-Government,” Dean Itsuji Saranillio (Journal of Asian American Studies)

“Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native,” Patrick Wolfe (Journal of Genocide Research)

“Patrick Wolfe on Settler Colonialism: A Conversation with J. Kēhaulani Kauanui,” Patrick Wolfe and J. Kēhaulani Kauanui (Speaking of Indigenous Politics: Conversations with Activists, Scholars, and Tribal Leaders)

“‘A Structure, Not an Event’: Settler Colonialism and Enduring Indigeneity,” J. Kēhaulani Kauanui (Lateral)

“‘This Land Is Your Land, This Land Was My Land’: Kanaka Maoli versus Settler Representations of ‘Āina in Contemporary Literature of Hawai‘i,” Ku‘ualoha Ho‘omanawanui

“Settler Colonial Postcards,” Karen K. Kosasa and Stan Tomita (Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai‘i)

“Moʻoinanea's Waterways on Mauna a Wākea: Beyond Settler Colonial Thresholds in the Wao Aku,” Candace Fujikane (Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future Kanaka Maoli and Critical Settler Cartographies in Hawai'i)

Debates in Asian settler colonial studies

“Why Asian settler colonialism matters: a thought piece on critiques, debates, and Indigenous difference,” Dean Itsuji Saranillio (Settler Colonial Studies)

“Weaving Analytics and Disrupting Dyads: Unsettling Settler Colonialism in Hawai‘i,” Judy Rohrer (Staking Claim: Settler Colonialism and Racialization in Hawai‘i)

“Haunani-Kay Trask and Settler Colonial and Relational Critique: Alternatives to Binary Analyses of Power,” Dean Itsuji Saranillio (Verge: Studies in Global Asias)

Why_Asian_Settler_Colonialism_Matters_a (1).pdf

Debates in settler colonial studies

“Writing/righting Palestine studies: settler colonialism, indigenous sovereignty and resisting the ghost(s) of history,” Rana Barakat (Settler Colonial Studies)

“Structures of Settler Capitalism in Abya Yala,” Shannon Speed (American Quarterly)

“Thinking with and Beyond Settler Colonial Studies: New Histories after the Postcolonial,” Jane Carey and Ben Silverstein (Postcolonial Studies)

“A New Beginning for Settler Colonial Studies,” Penelope Edmonds and Jane Carey (Settler Colonial Studies)

“Decolonizing Settler Colonialism: Kill the Settler in Him and Save the Man,” Lorenzo Veracini (American Indian Culture and Research Journal)

“Is Settler Colonial Studies Even Useful?” Lorenzo Veracini (Postcolonial Studies)

“OMG settler colonial studies: response to Lorenzo Veracini: ‘Is Settler Colonial Studies Even Useful?’” Alice Te Punga Somerville (Postcolonial Studies)

“Settler sidekick solidarity?: response to Lorenzo Veracini: ‘Is settler colonial studies even useful?’” Robert Warrior (Postcolonial Studies)

“False dilemmas and settler colonial studies: response to Lorenzo Veracini: ‘Is Settler Colonial Studies Even Useful?’” J. Kēhaulani Kauanui (Postcolonial Studies)

Key Texts

From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii, Haunani-Kay Trask

Native Land and Foreign Desires: Pehea Lā E Pono Ai? How Shall We Live in Harmony?, Lilikalā Kame‘eleihiwa

Dismembering Lahui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887, Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwo‘ole

Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawaii, Eds. Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Y. Okamura

Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to U.S. Colonialism, Noenoe K. Silva

Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity, J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

American Pacificism: Oceania in the U.S. Imagination, Paul Lyons

Securing Paradise: Tourism and Militarism in Hawai‘i and the Philippines, Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez

Staking Claim: Settler Colonialism and Racialization in Hawai‘i, Judy Rohrer

Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism, J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

Unsustainable Empire: Alternative Histories of Hawai‘i Statehood, Dean Itsuji Saranillio

Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawai‘i and Oceania, Maile Arvin

Pacific Currents, Eds. Paul Lyons and Ty P. Kāwika Tengan (special issue of American Quarterly)

Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai‘i, Eds. Hokulani K. Aikau and Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez

Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future: Kanaka Maoli and Critical Settler Cartographies in Hawai‘i, Candace Fujikane

Video resources

“Haunani-Kay Trask vs. Racist Caller,” Haunani-Kay Trask (Island Issues TV)

“Honest Government Ad – Visit Hawai‘i,” Giordano Nanni (Juice Media)

Noho Hewa – The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai‘i (Anne Keala Kelly)

Hawai‘i vs. U.S. Imperialism (The Pinky Show)

Additional key texts relating to other geographical contexts

The Fourth World: An Indian Reality, George Manuel

Dispossession by Degrees. Indian Land and Identity in Natick, Massachusetts, 1650–1790, Jean O’Brien

Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology, Patrick Wolfe

Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England, Jean O’Brien

“Past is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine,” Eds. Omar Jabary Salamanca, Mezna Qato, Kareem Rabie & Sobhi Samour (special issue of Settler Colonial Studies)

Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States, Audra Simpson

Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition, Glen Sean Coulthard

Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination, Mark Rifkin

Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii: Life beyond Settler Colonialism, Joseph Weiss

Incarcerated Stories: Indigenous Women Migrants and Violence in the Settler-Capitalist State, Shannon Speed

Indigenous Dispossession: Housing and Maya Indebtedness in Mexico, M. Bianet Castellanos

Settler Memory: The Disavowal of Indigeneity and the Politics of Race in the United States, Kevin Bruyneel

Space-Time Colonialism: Alaska's Indigenous and Asian Entanglements, Juliana Hu Pegues