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Session Detail (parallel)

Panel 28: Kuleana - A moral responsibility to re-examine Hawaiian histories

Coordinator(s)

Lorenz Rudolf Gonschor, Karin Louise Hermes

Session presentation

More than a century ago, the Hawaiian Islands were occupied by the United States of America, and unlike other past foreign rulers over Pacific Islands the USA has never left but on the contrary has intensified its stranglehold over the archipelago throughout the twentieth century. As a consequence, Hawai‘i has virtually been absent from discussions about the Pacific Islands for a long time, as the archipelago is often deemed too Americanized to count any longer as a true Oceanian place. With a new wave of scholarship from the islands, this is now slowly changing. Crucial for this process of re-integrating Hawai‘i into its Pacific environment is a critical re-examination of the way Hawaiian histories have been told and written. For the scholars involved, this is much more than an exercise in historiography. It is a kuleana – a moral responsibility both towards the ancestral world and towards future generations who will inhabit the islands. A good recent example includes the multi-disciplinary research to support the protection of Mauna Kea and other threatened sacred sites, as well as the quest for creative approaches to the islands’ myriad ecological and socio-economic crises. Similarly, such kuleana-driven scholarship also includes the re-discovery of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s significant international position in the nineteenth century and the use of that research to argue Hawai‘i’s contemporary geopolitical position.


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