Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawai`i and Oceania

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Oceania, United States on 2019-08-12 01:22Z by Steven

Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawai`i and Oceania

Duke University Press
November 2019
320 pages
Illustrations: 19 illustrations
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0633-6
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0502-5

Maile Arvin, Assistant Professor of History and Gender Studies
University of Utah

Possessing Polynesians

From their earliest encounters with indigenous Pacific Islanders, white Europeans and Americans asserted an identification with the racial origins of Polynesians, declaring them to be, racially, almost white and speculating that they were of Mediterranean or Aryan descent. In Possessing Polynesians Maile Arvin analyzes this racializing history within the context of settler colonialism across Polynesia, especially in Hawai‘i. Arvin argues that a logic of possession through whiteness animates settler colonialism, through which both Polynesia (the place) and Polynesians (the people) become exotic, feminized belongings of whiteness. Seeing whiteness as indigenous to Polynesia provided white settlers with the justification needed to claim Polynesian lands and resources. Understood as possessions, Polynesians were and continue to be denied the privileges of whiteness. Yet Polynesians have long contested these classifications, claims, and cultural representations, and Arvin shows how their resistance to and refusal of white settler logic have regenerated Indigenous forms of recognition.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Polynesia Is a Project, Not a Place
  • Part I. The Polynesian Problem: Scientific Production of the “Almost White” Polynesian Race
    • 1. Heirlooms of the Aryan Race: Nineteenth-Century Studies of Polynesian Origins
    • 2. Conditionally Caucasian: Polynesian Racial Classification in Early Twentieth-Century Eugenics and Physical Anthropology
    • 3. hating Hawaiians, Celebrating Hybrid Hawaiian Girls: Sociology and the Fictions of Racial Mixture
  • Part II. Regenerative Refusals: Confronting Contemporary Legacies of the Polynesian Problem in Hawai’i and Oceania
    • 4. Still in the Blood: Blood Quantum and Self-Determination in Day v. Apoliona and Federal Recognition
    • 5. The Value of Polynesian DNA: Genomic Solutions to the Polynesian Problems
    • 6. Regenerating Indigeneity: Challenging Possessive Whiteness in Contemporary Pacific Art
  • Conclusion. Regenerating an Oceanic Future in Indigenous Space-Time
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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The link between “tourism” and “settler colonialism” in Hawai’i

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2015-12-10 02:14Z by Steven

The link between “tourism” and “settler colonialism” in Hawai’i

Matador Network
2015-07-29

Bani Amor

Maile Arvin is a Native Hawaiian feminist scholar who writes about Native feminist theories, settler colonialism, decolonization, and race and science in Hawai‘i and the broader Pacific. She is currently a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Ethnic Studies at UCR and will be officially joining the department as an assistant professor in July. She is part of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association working group and a member of Hinemoana of Turtle Island, a Pacific Islander feminist group of activists, poets, and scholars located in California and Oregon. You can find some of her academic writing here.

Bani Amor: Tell us about yourself, the work that you do, and how your identities play into that work.

Maile Arvin: So I’m Native Hawaiian, and my family is from Waimanalo, a small town on the windward side of O’ahu. I’m an academic – I research and teach about race and indigeneity in Hawai’i, the larger Pacific and elsewhere. Being Native Hawaiian grounds my work, motivates me to write about Native Hawaiian lives and histories in complicated, respectful ways.

One of my current projects is working with Hinemoana of Turtle Island, a group of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander feminist women, many of whom are also academics but also poets, activists, artists. We support each other in the academic world and are accountable to each other. We talk to each other a lot about current issues that affect Pacific Islanders, usually in news that erases the existence of Indigenous Pacific Islanders altogether, and sometimes write up responses on our blog, muliwai. We’re currently working on a response to the movie Aloha. Or maybe more about the criticism of the movie that is entirely focused on Emma Stone’s casting.

Bani Amor: Word. That leads me to my next question: I often find that travel media and tourism are complicit in settler colonialism, in that it still purports an archaic, false image of indigenous peoples as smiling caricatures who are ready, willing and able to serve at the beck and call of the (white) tourist. Any idea why this is especially the case for Hawai’i?

Maile Arvin: For Hawai’i, because it is actually a U.S. state, there is this incredible sense of entitlement that white Americans in particular feel to being at home in Hawai’i. Since World War II in particular, and the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, there was this narrative of Hawai’i as being the place that militarily makes the rest of the U.S. safe. And along with that, there is also a need to justify and naturalize U.S. military occupation of these islands that are over 2000 miles away from the U.S. continent. So Hawai’i becomes this feminine place in need of the masculine U.S. military to safeguard both Hawai’i and the rest of the U.S. And Native Hawaiian women in particular become these symbols of a happy, paradisical place, a place where white military men will have fun, will get their own Native Hawaiian girl…

Read the entire interview here.

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Is Hawaii a Racial Paradise?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science, United States on 2015-09-16 18:13Z by Steven

Is Hawaii a Racial Paradise?

Zócalo Public Square
2015-09-15

Rudy P. Guevarra, Jr., Associate Professor of Asian Pacific American Studies
Arizona State University

Nitasha Sharma, Associate Professor of African-American Studies and Asian-American Studies
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

David A. Swanson, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Riverside

Lee A. Tonouchi (“Da Pidgin Guerilla”)
Hawaii

Roderick Labrador, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of Hawaii, Mānoa (also Director of the UCLA Hawaii Travel Study Program)

Maile Arvin, Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of California, Riverside

Races, Ethnicities, and Cultures Mix More Freely Than Elsewhere in the U.S., But There Are Limits to the Aloha Spirit

Early in the 2008 film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jason Segal, playing a guy who travels to Hawaii to get over a breakup, drunkenly pours out his feelings to two people in his hotel, a newlywed man and a bartender. The new husband encourages Segal to think there’s still hope for the relationship, but the bartender, Dwayne, has no sympathy for Segal’s sadness.

“You’ve gotta move on,” Dwayne says. “It’s that easy, I promise you it is. I lived in South Central. South Central. And I hated it. So I moved to Oahu. Now I can name you over 200 different kinds of fish!” He starts naming them.

The scene is hilarious, but it also hints at one of America’s fundamental Gordian knots—race—and the various ways we’ve tried to untie it. The story uses Los Angeles’ “South Central” neighborhood as a code word for a place where gangs are divided along color lines, racial tensions can erupt in violence, and residents feel stuck in the cycle. The implication is that Dwayne, who’s black, escaped all that by coming to Hawaii. He puts forth Hawaii as a paradise—a place where the only thing he has to worry about is learning how to pronounce Humuhumunukunukuapua`a.

Hawaii is one of America’s most diverse and happiest states. Some would contend people get along better here than almost anywhere else. But tossing different groups together also means there are frictions—ones that perhaps are too often are obscured by the sunshine and ukuleles in tourist guides.

So what’s the actual nature of racial relations in Hawaii? And what can the rest of us learn from it? In advance of the “What It Means to Be American” event “What Can Hawaii Teach America About Race?,” we asked a variety of experts on and off the islands that same question…

Read the entire article here.

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DANCE/CHANGE: The Mixed-Race Polynesian Body in Settler and Indigenous Performance

Posted in Anthropology, Live Events, Media Archive on 2014-10-05 21:53Z by Steven

DANCE/CHANGE: The Mixed-Race Polynesian Body in Settler and Indigenous Performance

University of California, Riverside
900 University Avenue
Riverside, California 92521
Athletics & Dance Building Dance Studio Theatre, ATHD 102
Tuesday, 2014-10-21, 16:10-18-00 PDT (Local Time)

Maile Arvin, UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Ethnic Studies
University of California, Riverside

The Mixed-Race Polynesian Body in Settler and Indigenous Performance

This talk examines the genealogy of settler images of the mixed-race, “almost white,” Polynesian body within early twentieth century eugenics. I look at why the idea that Polynesians used to be white, and are destined to be white again in the future, persists, and how it structures settler colonialism in Polynesia, with a particular focus on Hawaiʻi.

I also show how Indigenous artists work to decolonize categories of race and gender attributed to Polynesian bodies, reframing their own bodies within Indigenous frameworks and futures.

For more information, click here.

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Say Hapa, With Care

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, United States on 2014-06-19 17:34Z by Steven

Say Hapa, With Care

AAPI Voices: Amplifying the voices of Asian Pacific America.
2014-06-18

Sharon Chang, Guest Columnist

What does Hapa mean?  One way to know is to look at the ways in which the word is used.

It’s a “Hawaiian word for ‘mixed-race’,” says Hapa Kitchen Supper Club, “coined to refer to people of East Asian and Caucasian backgrounds.” Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar calls it “a harmonious blend of Asian and American.” It’s a “slang term,” proclaims The Natural Hapa: Bamboo Bundles and Hapa Time: Style Inspiration chirps it’s “just one of the coolest words ever.” There’s Hapa Yoga, Hapa Ramen, Hapa Grill, Hapa Cupcakes, Hinode sells a “Hapa Blend” of brown and white rices and Hapa Culture sells…erasers?

Let’s talk about this word, Hapa…

Read the entire article here.

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Possessions of Whiteness: Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness in the Pacific

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2014-06-04 19:22Z by Steven

Possessions of Whiteness: Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness in the Pacific

Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society
June 2014 (2014-06-02)

Maile Arvin, Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of California, Riverside

I confess: I avoided watching the 2011 Oscar award-winning movie The Descendants (directed by the acclaimed Alexander Payne of Sideways and Nebraska, starring George Clooney) for a long time. I had read the book of the same name, by Kaui Hart Hemmings, on which the movie is based. I have complicated feelings about the book—a witty and often wrenching portrayal of a rich Native Hawaiian family that doesn’t seem to feel, look, or know much about being Native Hawaiian. Though I recognize such struggles, about feeling or being disconnected from your own culture and nation, as a very Native story (or perhaps, more precisely, as the story of settler colonialism), I don’t recognize the ending of Hemmings’ story. After much turmoil, the protagonist of her novel decides not to sell the land he has inherited from his family. It is hard to connect with the rich protagonists of Hemmings’ novel because I don’t know any Native Hawaiians who have land to be inherited. I don’t know any Native Hawaiians who frequent yacht clubs. And I don’t know any Native Hawaiians who seem so completely unaware of the truly amazing achievements of recent cultural revitalization efforts in the Native Hawaiian community—from language revitalization to traditional seafaring (our beloved Hōkūleʻa has set sail on a round-the-world voyage this past week). But, to each her own, I thought.

When I did finally watch the movie, despite the fact that I knew the story, despite the fact that I spend most of my time writing, researching and thinking about whiteness and settler colonialism in the Pacific, and despite the fact that I attended (for a time) the very same, very white-dominated private high school in Honolulu that Hemmings (and, incidentally, President Obama) attended, I was stunned. In the film, the residents of Hawaiʻi are shown to be, almost entirely, white people…

…Another way that settler colonialism and white supremacy buttress each other, but are not exactly the same, is that “racial mixture” is encouraged under settler colonialism, in order to make Indigenous peoples, and their particular claims to land, less distinct from settlers. Any kind of “mixture” allows Indigenous peoples to be seen as less “authentic,” as “dying out.” However, the goal of settler colonialism is to mix the population in such a way that it is closer in proximity to whiteness. These ideologies filter down into Indigenous communities in subtle and sometimes surprising ways. For example, many Native Hawaiians are multiracial, and are widely accepted within Native Hawaiian communities if their “racial mix” includes white or Asian. Being Native Hawaiian and black, however, is often less embraced, less recognizable, and less valorized…

Read the entire article here.

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Pacifically Possessed: Scientific Production and Native Hawaiian Critique of the “Almost White” Polynesian Race

Posted in Anthropology, Dissertations, History, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2014-02-23 22:48Z by Steven

Pacifically Possessed: Scientific Production and Native Hawaiian Critique of the “Almost White” Polynesian Race

University of California, San Diego
2013
320 pages

Maile Renee Arvin

A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in Ethnic Studies

This dissertation analyzes how scientific knowledge has represented the Polynesian race as an essentially mixed, “almost white” race. Nineteenth and twentieth century scientific literature—spanning the disciplines of ethnology, physical anthropology, sociology and genetics—positioned Polynesians as the biological relatives of Caucasians. Scientific proof of this relationship allowed scientists, policymakers, and popular media to posit European and American settler colonialism in the Pacific as a peaceful and natural fulfillment of a biological destiny. Understanding knowledge as an important agent of settler colonial possession—in the political as well as supernatural, haunting connotations of that word— this project seeks to understand how Polynesians (with a particular focus on Native Hawaiians) have been bodily “possessed,” along with the political and economic possession of their lands. Thus, the project traces a logic of “possession through whiteness” in which Polynesians were once, and under the salutary influence of settler colonialism, will again be white.

The project’s analysis coheres around four figures of the “almost white” Polynesian race: the ancestrally white Polynesian of ethnology and Aryanism (1830s- 1870s), the Part-Hawaiian of physical anthropology and eugenics (1910s-1920s), the mixed-race “Hawaiian girl” of sociology (1930s-1940s), and the mixed-race, soon-to-be white (again) Polynesian of genetics, whose full acceptance in Hawaiʻi seemed to provide a model of racial harmony to the world (1950s). Rather than attempting to uncover “racist” scientific practices, the project reveals how historical scientific literature produced knowledge about the Polynesian race that remains important in how Native Hawaiians are recognized (and misrecognized) in contemporary scientific, legal and cultural spheres.

In addition to the historical analysis, the project also examines contemporary Native Hawaiian responses to the logic of possession through whiteness. These include regenerative actions that radically displace whiteness, such as contemporary relationship building between Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. At the same time, other regenerative actions attempt to reproduce Native Hawaiian-ness with a standard of racial purity modeled on whiteness, including legal fights waged over blood quantum legislation. Overall, the project provides a scientific genealogy as to how Polynesians have been recognized as “almost white,” and questions under what conditions this possessive recognition can be refused.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Signature Page
  • Dedication
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgements
  • Vita
  • Abstract of the Dissertation
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: The Polynesian Problem and its Genomic Solutions
    • Part 1: Defining the Polynesian Problem
      • 1.1.1: From Who to Whose: Origins, Identity, and Possession of the Indigenous Pacific
      • 1.1.2: Polynesia Through the Christian Lens of Degeneration
      • 1.1.3: Heirlooms of the Aryan Race
    • Part 2: (Un)Mapping Humanity: Genetic Sameness and Mixture in the Pacific
      • 1.2.1: Genetically “Solving” the Polynesian Problem
      • 1.2.2: The Hawaiian Genome Project
  • Chapter 2: “Still in the Blood”: Past and Present Configurations of the “Part-Hawaiian”
    • Part 1: Eugenic Thinking About Native Hawaiian Betterment
      • 2.1.1: Eugenics Pedagogy in Hawaiʻi: Uldrick Thompson’s Hopes for the Hawaiian “Remnant”
      • 2.1.2: Sullivan’s “Two Types” of Polynesians
    • Part 2: Leveraging Blood and Whiteness
      • 2.2.1: Polynesian Blood and the Pre-requisite of Whiteness
      • 2.2.2: Calling the Law on “Native Hawaiians with a Capital N”
  • Chapter 3: Re-envisioning “Hybrid” and “Hapa”: Race, Gender and Indigeneity in Hawaiʻi as Racial Laboratory
    • Part 1: Hybrid Hawaiian Types: Native Hawaiian Women in Hawaiʻiʻs Racial Laboratory
      • 3.1.1: The Racial Laboratory of Romanzo Adams and the Chicago School of Sociology
      • 3.1.2: Hybrid Hawaiian Girls
    • Part 2: Hapa and Whole
      • 3.2.1: Kip Fulbeck’s Vision of Hapa as a “Whole” New Race
      • 3.2.2: Re-constellations of Asian Settlers, Haoles Settlers, and Native Hawaiians
  • Chapter 4: Beyond Recognition: Native Hawaiians, Human Rights, and Global Indigenous Identities
    • Part 1: Polynesia and Hawaiʻi in the Science of Race After World World II
      • 4.1.1: The Polynesian Problem as Anti-Racist Example
      • 4.1.2: “Tropical Democracy” and the Science of Stabilizing Mixed Race
    • Part 2: Reframing Recognition: Indigenous Rights and Relationships in Oceania and Beyond
      • 4.2.1: Polynesian / Pacific / Pacific Islander
      • 4.2.2: Indigenous / Non-Self-Governing Territory
      • 4.2.3: Native American / Alaska Native / Idle No More
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Hawai’i’s Interracial History, Culture, and Tradition: Construction and Deconstruction (Sawyer Seminar VIII)

Posted in Anthropology, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Oceania on 2014-02-21 08:58Z by Steven

Hawai’i’s Interracial History, Culture, and Tradition: Construction and Deconstruction (Sawyer Seminar VIII)

University of Southern California, University Park Campus
Doheny Memorial Library
East Asian Seminar Room (110C)
Friday, 2014-02-28, 09:00-13:00 PST (Local Time)

How are islands connectors of flows of peoples and culture? What types of constructions and deconstructions of race and identity have influenced Hawai’i’s interracial history? How might the past impact the future of racial/ethnic relations on the Hawaiian islands?

PRESENTERS

“Hybrid” and “Hapa”: Challenging the Construction of Hawai‘i as America’s Racial Laboratory

Maile Arvin, University of Santa Cruz, California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow; Ph.D. UC San Diego
Author of Pacifically Possessed: Scientific Production and Native Hawaiian Critique of the “Almost White” Polynesian Race (2013).

“Chinese-Hawaiian Hybrids,” “Hapa Haoles,” and Other Categories: Mixed Race and Racial Consciousness Across the Native-Settler Divide in Territorial Hawai‘i

Christine Manganaro, Assistant Professor
Maryland Institute College of Art
Author of Assimilating Hawai‘i: Racial Science in a Colonial Laboratory, 1919-1959 (forthcoming)

Respondent:

Duncan Williams, Associate Professor of Religion
University of Southern California

For more information, click here.

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