Abstract: In the early 2000s, the rural and predominantly Native Hawaiian Moloka‘i community faced another episode in a decades-long struggle against the commodification of sacred lands in the context of settler colonialism. In this paper I analyze a decisive moment in the land struggle: a public hearing over a legally mandated environmental impact assessment. Environmental assessments promise to improve environmental outcomes via public participation, but have often fallen short as a means to assert the values and interests of Indigenous communities. This paper adds insight into why this happens and shows how one community overcame the political limitations of the environmental assessments process. Through an analysis of public records and interview data, I show how corporate landowners engaged in extensive community consultation to pursue their commercial interests, in anticipation of the environmental assessments and in hopes of securing land-use approvals. However, in response, community members articulated Indigenous values and agency within (and beyond) a legal setting and environmental review process partially at odds with such values. I argue that defenders of a culturally sacred place, Lā‘au Point, both deployed and resisted Hawai‘i’s land-use and environmental laws. They leveraged the formal legal criteria of the environmental review process, yet they affirmed cultural meanings and relationships of moral responsibility to land by deploying multiple literacies—legal literacies as well as land and culture-based literacies—to protect a cherished place. Overall, this case study reveals the diversity, complexity, and resilience of Native Hawaiian resistance to urbanization and settler colonialism.

Abstract: This paper engages geographic literature on diverse economies by foregrounding an analysis of racial capitalism. Prevailing conversations on diverse economies aptly point out that there exist economic formations that do not adhere to capitalist modes of production. However, these same conversations lack an explicit engagement with the ways in which establishing non-capitalist economies entails attending explicitly to the question of race. Ignoring how racialization underlies capitalism runs the risk of inadequately understanding the role that race plays in configuring alternatives to capitalist formations. Thus, the authors argue that analysis of diverse economies must explicitly attend to the fact that both capitalism and its alternatives are shaped by racial difference. After discussing prominent geographical work on diverse economies, the authors explore racial capitalism as an analytic for interrogating present-day capitalism. They argue that racial capitalism shows how the marginalization of racialized populations is a central component of capitalist reproduction. The second half of the paper draws on empirical examples from Canada and the United States to demonstrate how Black and Indigenous communities both recognize the role that their oppression plays in capital accumulation and find ways to create economic alternatives to those forms of accumulation. Specifically, the authors discuss public housing initiatives among Indigenous communities in Winnipeg and Minneapolis and the creation of urban commons by Black communities in Detroit and Jackson. By emphasizing the racialized nature of capitalism and showing how racialized communities create economic alternatives to capitalism, this paper offers a nuanced approach to discussing the possibilities of diverse economies.

Abstract: My dissertation, “Queer Pidgin: Unsettling U.S. Settler Colonialism in Hawai‘i’s Language Politics,” assembles writings and performances in Pidgin, Hawai‘i’s creole language, and theorizes how this multiethnic body of cultural texts critically unsettles the representational and political norms of the United States as a settler colonial state. A language that developed from the multiethnic context of plantation labor, Pidgin emerged as the common language when the Native Hawaiian language was banned in 1896. Pidgin, I argue, not only bears the deterritorializing potential to challenge entrenched binaries between the settler and the native, but also admits a third term, the migrant laborer. Pidgin poses a counter to how identity and community have been formulated and sanctioned by the U.S. settler state. Indeed, in contrast to mainland multicultural ideology and uncritical celebrations of diversity, Pidgin, although associated with multiethnic speakers, has a “queer” relationship to “straight English” that calls for careful theorization. This is where my project intervenes. Albeit stigmatized as nonwhite and uncivilized, Pidgin’s imagined community, I argue, models a process of inclusion from below rather than assimilation enforced from above. Not a dialect, in this regard, but a creole, Pidgin is less a regionalized deviation from standard, mainland English than a synthesis of multiple languages whose “local” identity gestures toward the world and Native sovereignty in potentially critical ways. Even as Pidgin arose out of the plantation economy of Hawai‘i, it speaks, I contend, to international flows of labor, to the intermingling of tongues, and most critically to the political imagination of common ground between Native Hawaiians and Asian migrant laborers that cannot be reduced to assimilation through U.S. citizenship but rather suggests an alternative model of community.

That Native Hawaiians “are not Americans,” as scholar-activist Haunani-Kay Trask maintains, is an implicitly comparative claim in Hawai‘i where local Japanese Americans have prominently figured as leaders within a national Democratic Party establishment. Some Asian American scholars like Candice Fujikane and Jonathan Okamura note that Asians in Hawai‘i have taken part in and benefited from a settler colonial structure. Additionally, literature written by Asian Americans in Hawai‘i has been criticized as participating in colonial hierarchies at the expense of Native Hawaiian literature and culture. Yet, even as these important insights into U.S. settler colonialism reveal minoritized complicity in systems of power, they adhere to a binaristic model of “settler” and “native” that falters when it comes to analysis of Pidgin.

Written by Native Hawaiians and Asian Americans alike, Pidgin cultural production complicates the binarism of U.S. settler colonial paradigms. While usually conceived as a non-literary and oral language, Pidgin features regularly in literary and cultural production both as a reflection of everyday life and, as I argue, as a critical intervention against the norms of U.S. imperialism. Pidgin literary works are not reducible to minority literature, which assumes assimilation and discounts U.S. settler colonialism and Hawaiian sovereignty. Unlike ethnic literatures, which fall under the national rubric of “American,” Pidgin exposes the imperialism of the United States. In its conception, Pidgin literature unsettles the American literary canon by refusing incorporation into it. Instead, Pidgin literature develops an imagined alternative community that re-works Hawai‘i’s settler colonial status along queer lines. As my research demonstrates, Pidgin literature refuses easy incorporation into the American literary canon. Whereas Pidgin literatures of Hawai‘i have often been disaggregated, in their critical reception, into multiple, largely non-intersecting tracks—namely, as an extension of U.S. literature, a regional subset of Asian American literature, a strand of Native Hawaiian literature, and a Hawai‘i-specific contribution to Pacific literature—my project harks back to Pidgin’s political function as a shared tongue. Inasmuch as Pidgin is a creole language, crossing ethnic and class boundaries in its polyglot origins, rather than a variety of English, Pidgin literary works also do not fall under the rubric of dialect and regional literature.

I assemble Pidgin cultural texts by Native Hawaiians writers like John Dominis Holt and Brandy Nālani McDougall; Asian Americans like R. Zamora Linmark; and mixed-race comedians like Rap Reiplinger. As my project demonstrates, these Pidgin cultural texts not only expose the interlocking nature of U.S. imperialism and settler colonialism, but also furnish a critical vision of multiethnic community that, with its decolonizing ethos, counters mainland state-driven ideologies around multiculturalism.

Description: Within the Peace River Oil Sands patch of Alberta, Canada, white settlers actively avoid awareness of the pollution and social violence their Indigenous neighbors experience daily. To do so, they erect racial boundaries that separate them from their Indigenous Other with violent consequences. Their avoidance both produces and is enabled through a settler coloniality – a racial hierarchy that allocates political, economic, and cultural power inequitably to privilege settlers and marginalize Indigenous nations, better securing state and industry access to natural resource regions. This allocation of power drives the formation of the Canadian nation-state and provides significant material benefit to its white citizens, but often to the detriment of First Nations communities. Application of theory from environmental anthropology, critical Native and race studies, and decolonial and phenomenological methods reveals that processes of historical narration, spatial practice, and Anglo-Canadian perception of Indigenous bodies and space work concurrently to reproduce the settler coloniality that allows tar sands development to expand in the absence of local political opposition. I conclude that settlers’ refusal to cross the boundaries they create denies them the ability to see Indigenous neighbors in their full humanity, reinforces stereotypes, and thus prolongs environmental injustice in settler societies. This argument is driven by an engaged praxis, meant to assist in dismantling harmful racial boundaries across settler nations; that wherever Indigenous nations, peoples of color, and settlers live together we achieve the cessation of the social and environmental violence that justice, reconciliation, and human rights all demand.

Excerpt: It is my contention that Indigenous new media arts have particularly flourished across the parts of the “Anglo-world” that are the result of the early waves of British settler colonialism, most notably in countries such as Canada, Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and the United States (including Hawai’i). There are a number of reasons why Indigenous new media art initiatives have really been able to thrive across this particular geopolitical framework. Firstly, there is the nature of settler colonialism itself and the type of transnational dynamics it leaves us with. In distinguishing between colonialist and settler colonialist frameworks, critics have noted that while the former privileges a centre-periphery dynamic, settler colonialism is “inherently transnational” and requires a “‘networked’ frame of analysis” to capture the movements and exchanges between colonies. Nonetheless, although the phenomenon of setter colonialism has the capacity to bypass the original metropole, it still depends on that metropole for the provision shared cultural values and a lingua franca through which cultural sharing may take place. Thus, from the outset, there is a network of settler communities with lots in common and a shared language in which to explore similarities and differences. Furthermore, while the original circuitry of settler colonial “worlds” is based on the movement and exchanges between settlers rather than the Indigenous peoples the settlers sought to displace, assimilate or eliminate, the same overarching networks and linguas francas have also been strategically appropriated by Indigenous peoples to provide the framework for the growth of a pan-Indigenous movement that has blossomed over the last forty years. 

Excerpt: Settler nationhood, by necessity, positions Indigenous Peoples as oppositional—to both settlement and nationhood. Historically, this opposition was viewed, from the settler perspective of process, as something to be overcome, either through eradication or assimilation. Contemporarily, settlerism is often framed as the process having been completed, under which the eradication and erasure of Indigenous Peoples is a foregone, or assumed, conclusion. Indigenous sovereignties and communities are deemed obsolete, or temporary nuisance situations that will ultimately disappear through assimilation. This is true even in those settler states that declare allegiance to nation-to-nation relationships with the Indigenous Peoples within their borders. This essay explores ongoing and contemporary methods of Indigenous opposition to settler nationhood and the settler-colonial processes of upholding that nationhood. Through activism and community sustainability, Indigenous Peoples successfully, albeit painfully and often with great sacrifice, constrain the process of absolute settlement in the four CANZUS nations—Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States—that initially rejected the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Despite historic and continuing expressions of colonial violence from these states, each has since partially accepted UNDRIP as an “aspirational document,” although they maintain that the document is irreconcilable with settler-national legal systems (Canada, Statement of Support).

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