SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

A Question of Decolonization: Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) Women and the Dilemma of Feminism

Professor J. KÄ“haulani Kauanui (Wesleyan University)

Date: 6 February 2020Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 6 February 2020Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS

Type of Event: Annual Lecture

Related to a new book project (in-progress), this talk will address the politics of contemporary Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) women’s nationalist activism, which includes the construction and deployment of cultural discourses of reclamation in the area of gender and sexuality within Hawaiian nationalist initiatives. In short, the talk explores how feminism poses an epistemological problem for indigenous sovereignty and the reclamation of mana wahine (women’s power). There is a paucity of work constituting a body of Native Hawaiian feminist thought, but the majority of what has been produced is by Haunani-Kay Trask, who went from identifying as a feminist – as reflected in her first book, Eros and Power: The Promise of Feminist Theory (1986) – to dismissing feminism altogether as irrelevant to the realities of Native Hawaiian women in her last, From a Native Daughter (1992). Trask advanced a critique of the Western individualism promoted by white American feminism, which she argues undermines Hawaiian collective struggles for self-determination. The talk will engage Trask’s political critique of feminism, as both a cultural and political problem in relation to broader questions of feminism in the Hawaiian context.   

J. KÄ“haulani Kauanui is Professor of American Studies and affiliate faculty in Anthropology at Wesleyan University, where she teaches courses on indigenous studies, critical race studies, settler colonial studies, and anarchist studies. She is the author of Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity (Duke University Press 2008) and Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism (Duke University Press 2018). She is also the editor of Speaking of Indigenous Politics: Conversations with Activists, Scholars, and Tribal Leaders (University of Minnesota Press 2018). Kauanui currently serves as a co-producer for an anarchist politics show called, “Anarchy on Air,” a majority-POC show co-produced with a group of Wesleyan students, which builds on her earlier work on another collaborative anarchist program called “Horizontal Power Hour.”  Kauanui is one of the six original co-founders of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), established in 2008. She also serves on the advisory board for the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). 

No registration required. This event is free and open to attend.

Organiser: Centre for Gender Studies

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