Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty

Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism

Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: 6 illustrations Published: September 2018

American Studies, Native and Indigenous Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

In Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty J. Kehaulani Kauanui examines contradictions of indigeneity and self-determination in U.S. domestic policy and international law. She theorizes paradoxes in the laws themselves and in nationalist assertions of Hawaiian Kingdom restoration and demands for U.S. deoccupation, which echo colonialist models of governance. Kauanui argues that Hawaiian elites' approaches to reforming and regulating land, gender, and sexuality in the early nineteenth century that paved the way for sovereign recognition of the kingdom complicate contemporary nationalist activism today, which too often includes disavowing the indigeneity of the Kanaka Maoli (Indigenous Hawaiian) people. Problematizing the ways the positing of the Hawaiian Kingdom's continued existence has been accompanied by a denial of U.S. settler colonialism, Kauanui considers possibilities for a decolonial approach to Hawaiian sovereignty that would address the privatization and capitalist development of land and the ongoing legacy of the imposition of heteropatriarchal modes of social relations.


Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty offers a careful delineation of the centrality of heteropatriarchy to both imperial-colonial and nation-state structures. Using the concepts of biopower and biopolitics, J. Kēhaulani Kauanui powerfully recounts the history of the (incomplete) subjugation of women and suppression of Native sexual practices as inherent parts of the establishment of the Hawaiian monarchy, revealing the paradox of ali‘i (chiefly elites) having to eradicate indigenous ways of life in order to gain recognition of Hawaiian sovereignty. She shows how this paradox continues today, as Christian evangelical ideology undergirds the discourse of restoring the Hawaiian Kingdom.” — Noenoe K. Silva, author of The Power of the Steel-tipped Pen: Reconstructing Native Hawaiian Intellectual History

Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty is at once devastating and gentle in its tough-minded critique of Indigenous political movements that avoid hard questions that arise from their own histories of exclusion, compromise, and elitism. Intrepid books like these are the ones that not only point us toward the future, but show us what it will take to build it.” — Robert Warrior, Hall Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture, University of Kansas


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Fall 2019 Sale
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

J. Kehaulani Kauanui is Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University, author of Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity, also published by Duke University Press, and editor of Speaking of Indigenous Politics: Conversations with Activists, Scholars, and Tribal Leaders.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Abbreviations  ix
Preface  xi
Acknowledgments  xv
Introduction. Contradictory Sovereignty  1
1. Contested Indigeneity: Between Kingdom and "Tribe"  43
2. Properties of Land: That Which Feeds  76
3. Gender, Marriage, and Coverture: A New Proprietary Relationship  113
4. "Savage: Sexualities  153
Conclusion. Decolonial Challenges to the Legacies of Occupation and Settler Colonialism  194
Notes  203
Glossary of Hawaiian Words and Phrases  235
Bibliography  237
Index  263
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-7075-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-7049-9
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