284
Settler Colonialism
Dean Itsuji Saranillio
If a big wave comes in large fi shes will come from the dark ocean which
you never saw before, and when they see the small fi shes they will eat them
up; such also is the case with large animals, they will prey on the smaller
ones; the ships of the whitemen have come, and smart people have arrived
from the Great Countries which you have never seen before, they know our
people are few in number and living in a small country; they will eat us up,
such has always been the case with large countries, the small ones have
been gobbled up.
— david malo, 1837
As a working concept that should remain under revision, settler colonialism describes a historically created system of power that aims to expropriate Indigenous territories and eliminate modes of production in order to
replace Indigenous peoples with settlers who are discursively constituted
as superior and thus more deserving over these contested lands and resources. As such, settler colonialism is a formation of colonial power that
“destroys to replace”1
and requires an obstinate kind of ideological productivity. As productive and self- righteous as a Protestant work ethic, to offer
only one example, the work of replacing one landscape for another, one
people for another, one mode of production for another, also necessitates a
discursive regime— underpinned by juridical and military force— that is
productive of normalizing occupation and making sense of the genocide
that this kind of replacement requires. Here, I wish to highlight settler colonialism as an evolving form of colonial power that justifi es settler hegemony through an antiprimitive logic akin to antiblackness.2
Because settler colonialism is never a fi nished pro ject, these or ga niz ing logics operate
through a complex unity of power relations that necessarily rely on recurrent pro cesses of settler accumulation by Native dispossession.3
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Settler Colonialism · 285
Settler studies scholars Anna Johnston and Alan Lawson argue that,
“the occupation of land formerly owned by others always translates into
the cultural politics of repre sen ta tion.”4
There is thus a mutual relationship between the occupation of contested space and controlling the represen ta tion of this occupation. In earlier scholarship, the application of
settler colonialism was in reference to white settler socie ties that highlighted the “physical vio len ce and repre sen ta tional erasure done to indigenous communities in order to achieve that ‘whiteness.’ ”5
Contemporary
interrogations of the intricate relations of power within U.S. multicultural
settler socie ties, however, require carefully and tactically assembling various historically created systems of power intersectionally. While not equivalent to a white racial dictatorship, multiculturalism is no less per sis tent in
maintaining logics of white supremacy, including the physical vio len ce
and (mis)repre sen ta tional “erasure” of indigenous peoples. In fact, Elizabeth Povinelli argues that in modern liberal demo cratic socie ties, multiculturalism is a characteristic of settler colonialism often creating the
conditions under which indigenous peoples are forced into a politics of
recognition and authenticity in order for their claims not to be disqualifi ed. In the United States, settler colonialism intersects with U.S. racial,
heteropatriarchal, and imperial subjugation and their accompanying
epistemes, which often do not contend with indigenous genocide and
colonialism, to the overall structure of U.S. society. Furthermore, the conceptual relevance of settler colonialism is diffi cult to imagine, as it is
often obscured in the mind’s eye behind U.S. nationalist narratives (even
critical ones) that can naturalize and mythologize the act of conquest.
These two dimensions to U.S. settler colonialism— its relationship to nonindigenous marginalized groups and the marginalization of indigenous
histories in dominant discussions of race, class, gender, sexuality, and
imperialism— makes settler colonialism a concept that is theorized under
the conditions of erasure, where settler colonialism is applicable to discussions of the past or to white settlers but often made irrelevant to mapping
the relations of force in the pre sent. Patrick Wolfe, scholar on settler colonialism, counters succinctly and powerfully that “invasion is a structure,
not an event.”6
In my work on Hawai‘i’s admission as a U.S. state, I utilize the productive tensions generated by placing Native studies and Asian American
studies in conversation, thus allowing myself to pull formations of settler
colonialism and imperialism, primitivist and orientalist discursive formations, and anti- indigenous and anti- immigrant histories together. My engagement with settler colonialism is thus concerned with the epistemic
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286 · Dean Itsuji Saranillio
tensions between historical groups, social movements, and academic
fi elds, mapping the temporal and geopo liti cal dissonance that allows variegated groups to relate differently to settler state formation and projects
of empire. To locate settler colonialism as foundational to U.S. nation and
empire building requires centering indigenous forms of governance and
re sis tance to this settler nation’s supposedly civilized existence, a genocide
also exported by a belligerent military that has historically and contemporaneously waged racist gendered vio len ce for the sake of sustaining capitalism, resource extraction, and global hegemony. This short piece aims to
highlight the need to situate settler colonialism as a central historical dynamic but one within a constellation of pro cesses that make up an understanding of just what kind of multicultural settler/imperial state the United
States is.
Situating Hawai‘i at the intersection of U.S. empire, where the pro cesses
of settler- state formation in North America and U.S. imperialist military
and economic occupation into Oceania and Asia convene, I do not think
that settler colonialism can be discussed without examining the specifi c
geopo liti cal situations existent in a given space. Every movement in opposition to settler colonialism has its own histories, specifi cities, demands, and
struggles that are themselves based on astute assessments of changing conditions and possibilities in a given historical moment. I am therefore not
arguing that what I write here is applicable to every settler colonial situation. Also, as opposed to laboring in a positivist fashion over who is and is
not a settler, as many debates over settler colonialism have been framed,
I think it more productive to ask what po liti cal and ideological work does
the term settler colonialism do in a multicultural settler nation premised on
a perpetual amnesia regarding the ongoing genocide committed against
Native peoples.
A Future Wish
The decline of the native Hawaiian ele ment in the presence of newer sturdier growths must be accepted as an inevitable fact, in view of the teachings of ethnological history. And as retrogression in the development of the
Islands can not be admitted without serious detriment to American interests in the North Pacifi c, the problem of a replenishment of the vital forces
of Hawaii presents itself for intelligent solution in an American sense— not
an Asiatic or a British sense.
— james g. blaine, u.s. secretary of state, 18817
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Settler Colonialism · 287
In The Question of Palestine Edward Said writes that the colonial pro ject
of settlers seeks to “cancel and transcend an actual reality— a group of resident Arabs—by means of a future wish— that the land be empty for development by a more deserving power.”8
This temporal logic resonates with
the design of the Republic of Hawaii seal created by Viggo Jacobsen in 1895,
which continues to be used today as the Seal for the State of Hawai‘i.
Lorrin A. Thurston, a third generation descendent of some of the fi rst U.S.
Calvinist missionaries and architect of the 1893 U.S.- military- backed overthrow, obsessively talked about the death of the Hawaiian Kingdom and
the birth of a new settler government. He argued that once Hawaiians understood that the monarchy was dead and “this idea penetrates the skulls
of the great unwashed electorate,” Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) themselves would become annexationists.9
The State of Hawai‘i seal visually
offers us an understanding of this necropolitcal logic and a settler “ future
wish” in Hawai‘i. Viggo Jacobsen designed the Hawai‘i seal in an art competition sponsored by the legislature of the Republic of Hawai‘i. In a 1979
issue of Aloha Magazine the author writes,
Figure 14.1. Royal coat of arms of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Photograph by author.
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288 · Dean Itsuji Saranillio
The seal is a modifi ed version of the royal coat of arms of the Hawaiian
Kingdom. . . . The rising sun replaces the royal crown and Maltese cross
of the original coat of arms, and signifi es the birth of a new state. King
Kamehameha the Great and Goddess of Liberty holding the Hawaiian
fl ag replace two warriors on the royal coat of arms. Puloulou, or tabu ball
and stick, in the second and third quarters was carried before the king
and placed before the door of his home, signifying his authority and
power. Here, it is a symbol of the authority and power of government.
The phoenix, symbol of death and resurrection, symbolizes the change
from the monarchy to a freer demo cratic form of government.10
In 1895, three years before Hawai‘i was illegally annexed through joint
resolution by the United States, the star at the center of the shield represented the “the Star of Hawaii,” a “ future wish” for statehood of which
Viggo Jacobsen wrote, “we hope to see ultimately placed in the banner of
the United States.”11 While settler nations rely, at a symbolic level, on the
existence of a “primitive” people to assert its national difference from
other nations and the perception of itself as a “modern” nation, as long as
Figure 14.2. Republic of Hawai‘i seal. Photograph by author.
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Settler Colonialism · 289
“primitives” could be proven as forever in the past, as a people whose history or futures were already written as obituaries, settlers could legitimate
their occupation by asserting themselves as the modern inheritors of Native peoples’ lands.12 At the same time, however, most Hawaiian nationals
had not given up their claims to Hawaiian in de pen dence. As Noenoe K.
Silva’s research has uncovered, armed strug gle was attempted in 1895, but
in 1897, when talks of annexing the Hawaiian Islands to the United States
resumed, the Hui Kalai‘aina and Hui Aloha ‘Aina parties circulated petitions signed by over 90 percent of the Hawaiian population opposing
American citizenship throughout the islands.13
As the epigraph above affi rms, the question of which kinds of settlers
would control Hawai‘i was discussed by U.S. government offi cials in the
last de cade of the nineteenth century. White settlers in Hawai‘i sought to
dismiss Hawaiian claims to nationhood by playing to a much more recognizable international threat to white order than that posed by Kānaka Maoli.
This threat, the Yellow Peril, was discussed by Lorrin Thurston in 1897.
Thurston framed Hawai‘i as a contest not between Hawaiians and white
settlers but between the white and the yellow races, stating, “It is no longer
a question whether Hawaii should be controlled by the native Hawaiian,
or by some foreign people; but the question is, ‘What foreign people shall
control Hawaii.’ ”14 “Orientals,” as opposed to “primitives,” were not peoples
at the beginning of progress; rather, they were seen as symbols of the measure of progress along the spectrum between the spheres of the “traditional”
and “modern” (with the modern referencing the West).15
To be sure, during the territorial period (1900–1959), a complex transition between a white racial dictatorship and a liberal “multicultural” state
emerged.16 Even previous to the 1900 Organic Act, when Hawai‘i adopted
the immigration and naturalization laws of the United States, Asian groups
were prohibited from naturalization or voting by the 1887 Bayonet Constitution. This constitution, signed by King David Kalākaua under threat
of force, also dramatically limited the infl uence of the monarch while disenfranchising a majority of Hawaiians from voting by means of income,
property, and literacy requirements. Labeled “ineligible to citizenship” with
the passing of racist American laws, this generation would have to wait for
their children to come of voting age to gain po liti cal repre sen ta tion. In
1936, University of Hawai‘i sociologist and proponent of the “immigration assimilation model” Romanzo Adams predicted that by 1944, twothirds of Hawai‘i’s Asian population would be able to vote, consequently
increasing the strength of the “non- Caucasian majority” and leading to a
re distribution of power.17 Realizing that a previously closed win dow of
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290 · Dean Itsuji Saranillio
po liti cal opportunity was poised to open, many Asian Americans helped
form the Demo cratic Party to challenge the Republican Party’s control
over the legislature. Ronald Takaki notes that Japa nese American struggles
against the haole oligarchy refl ected a new consciousness, “a transformation from sojourners to settlers, from Japa nese to Japa nese Americans.”18
By 1952, Congress passed the Walter- McCarren Act, making it possi ble
for the fi rst- generation Japa nese to naturalize and vote; by 1954, Japa nese
Americans were the largest voting bloc in the territory, and the Democratic Party, with the support of the International Longshoremen and
Ware house men’s Union, dislodged the Republican plantation oligarchy
from the legislature in what has been termed in Hawai‘i the “Demo cratic
Revolution.” Ronald Takaki argues that Asian Americans in Hawai‘i, “by
their numerical preponderance . . . had greater opportunities [than on the
U.S. continent] to weave themselves and their cultures into the very fabric
of Hawaii and to seek to transform their adopted land into a society of rich
diversity where they and their children would no longer be ‘strangers from
a different shore.’ ”19 Roger Bell, on the other hand, notes that Native
Hawaiians, after statehood, “had become . . . strangers, in their own land,
submerged beneath the power ful white minority and a newly assertive
Asian majority.”20 In spite of a movement for equality, the counterhegemonic strategies of Asian Americans against haole supremacy challenged,
modifi ed, and yet renewed a hegemonic U.S. colonial system.
What has been less visible to many, if not rendered natural and normal,
is how Asian projects for equality with white settlers and inclusion into the
United States have actually helped form po liti cal projects and identities in
opposition to or at the expense of those Kānaka Maoli who were deemed
“unfi t for self- government.” This is to say, that settler colonialism works exactly through inclusion and incorporation. For instance, on April 9, 1893,
a little over two months after the U.S.- military- backed overthrow, Japa nese
plantation laborers submitted a petition that did not oppose the overthrow
of Hawai‘i by white settlers but rather demanded their electoral participation in the new settler government, stating that they were the “physical and
intellectual” equals of any of the other foreigners.”21 Similarly, in 1894, the
Chinese in Hawai‘i sent a petition, signed by hundreds of people, also seeking their right to participate in the new settler government.22 In the everyday vernacular, one can also see how Virgilio Menor Felipe writes that the
term Kanaka, which refers to indigenous Kānaka Maoli, was used as a slur
by Filipinos to also mean “ ‘boy’ or servant.”23 Furthermore, in a study conducted in the 1950s, Joseph C. Finney argued that the “primitive ste reotype” defi ned common views of Hawaiians as “lazy.” As one woman listed
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Settler Colonialism · 291
as Japa nese said, “You see the Hawaiians are . . . popularly known to be lazy,
and they don’t have a tradition for literacy and they’re not the conscientious type, industrious type.”24 This is itself an old tale of capitalism, expressed in the term primitive accumulation, wherein Marx takes Adam
Smith to task for creating a “nursery tale” about two sorts of people, “one,
the diligent, intelligent and above all frugal elite; the other, lazy rascals,
spending their substance, and more, in riotous living”; Marx goes on to argue
that “in actual history, it is a notorious fact that conquest, enslavement,
robbery, murder, in short, force, play the greatest part.”25
White settler elites aimed to manage Asian and Kanaka Maoli populations in ways that were structured by the different needs of the same settler
capitalist system. Primitive accumulation— the inaugural moments of violen ce that set the conditions for capitalism to exist—is a useful concept in
examining the complex relations within settler colonialism structured by
white supremacy. This pro cess of primitive accumulation and its ongoing
pro cess of “accumulation by dispossession” divorces a people from the
means of production— from their ability to provide for the basic necessities
of life— and they are then forced to live through wage labor. For centuries,
the vast cultivation of different varieties of taro— the food staple and genealogical ancestor of Kānaka Maoli— nourished one of the largest and densest populations on the island.26 Lo‘i kalo (stoned terraced wetland taro)
enabled a sustainable mode of Hawaiian farming that makes use of intricate
‘auwai (irrigation canals) to irrigate a diversity of wetland kalo and an array
of other plants and animals. This nutrient- rich water is then channeled back
to the stream or river. In the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, sugar planters claimed own ership of these rivers.
White settler planters diverted water away from Kanaka ‘Ōiwi communities to arid areas of the island in order to expand the industrial production
of sugar sold on the U.S. market. Kānaka ‘Ōiwi were no longer able to access the required amount of water necessary for indigenous foodways to continue. Indeed, eliminating indigenous foodways, which coerced Kānaka
‘Ōiwi into a settler society and capitalist economy, is tied to the low wages
and dangerous work conditions experienced by many Asian groups on the
sugar plantations. Paul Isenberg, a prominent leader of Hawai‘i’s sugar industry in the nineteenth century, argued that arranging workers’ wages so
that the “Chinese and Japa nese had to work or be hungry” made them easier
to control.27
By placing different histories of Asian groups on the plantations and
the pro cesses of settler colonialism affecting Kanaka ‘Ōiwi in complex
unity by using food— a basic necessity of life— indigenous knowledge and
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292 · Dean Itsuji Saranillio
economies are regenerated as a means to transform the po liti cal economy
and power relations upholding settler colonialism. Noelani GoodyearKa‘ōpua argues in her book The Seeds We Planted,
The marginalization and suppression of Indigenous knowledges has gone
hand- in- hand with the transformation and degradation of Indigenous
economic systems. . . . Conversely, settler- colonial relations might be
transformed by rebuilding, in new ways, the Indigenous structures that
have historically sustained our socie ties.28
Imagining ways of using settler colonialism against itself, primarily by
building affi nities between communities whose relations are historically
often vexed as well as sustaining affi nities with nonhuman but genealogically related species, specifi cally taro or kalo, the ancestor of Kānaka Maoli
that enclosure aimed to eliminate, Goodyear- Ka‘ōpua sets the conditions
for cultivating noncapitalist relations and planting the seeds for a new
indigenous economy to reemerge.29 As Jeffrey Corntassel argues, “The
approximately 5,000 Indigenous nations trapped in 70 settler states around
the world offer us 5,000 different versions of ungovernability.”30
Settlers of Color
When we fi rst came to Hawaii, these islands were covered with ohia forests,
guava fi elds and areas of wild grass. Day and night did we work, cutting trees
and burning grass, clearing lands and cultivating fi elds until we made the
plantations what they are today.
— hawaii laborers’ association, 192031
As critical projects that examine the entangled formations of settler colonialism and occupation in Hawai‘i grow, scholarship examining Asian
Americans in Hawai‘i also have the potential to be transformed by engaging with the history of Kānaka Maoli.32 While Asian American history
usually begins with Western colonialism/imperialism’s displacement of
peoples from Asia, or at the point of entry to the Americas or the Pacifi c,
Asian American histories are seldom placed in relation to an Indigenous
history of dispossession by the United States. Though the effects of land
dispossession and genocide against Native Americans and Kānaka Maoli
are acknowledged, Indigenous histories are often written in the past tense,
as memorialized moments that are rarely used to interpret relations of force
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Settler Colonialism · 293
in the pre sent. Placing these histories in conversation does not, however,
seek to situate Asian “Americans” and Kānaka Maoli as always already in
solidarity or opposition but instead articulates these different groups’ oppressions as “overlapping without equivalence,” signaling the need for an
attempt to become multilingual in different historical and discursive logics of power constituting these groups.33
One of the fi rst works in Asian American studies to relationally engage
indigenous history is the 2000 special issue of Amerasia Journal titled Whose
Vision? Asian Settler Colonialism in Hawai‘i, edited by Candace Fujikane
and Jonathan Okamura. This collection was reprinted as an anthology in
2008, titled Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai‘i, with a new introduction and the addition of
seven articles that had been informed by the earlier 2000 issue. Aiming to
build on a critical analy sis of U.S. colonialism in Hawai‘i developed by
Kanaka Maoli scholars and activists, Candace Fujikane argues that the collection of essays together argues for a need to rethink the teleological aim
for Asian inclusion into the settler state that collides with the aims of a
Hawaiian movement for nationhood: “For the larger, long- term vision
of Hawaiian self- determination to be made a reality, the Native and settler
contributors in this volume call on Asian settlers in Hawai‘i to reexamine
their interests within the U.S. settler state and to hold themselves and their
communities accountable for their settler practices.”34 Published during a
series of legal attacks brought by both Asian and haole settlers against
Hawaiian so- called raced based entitlements as a backdrop, the collection
encouraged Asian settlers to critique structures of colonialism in support
of Hawaiian nationhood, seeking to build alliances by asking Asian groups
to critically examine their investments in the settler state and roles in sustaining colonialism in Hawai‘i.
Responses to the application of settler colonialism to Hawai‘i and particularly to different Asian groups have been mixed. Scholars studying
Hawai‘i have each differently begun critically theorizing and pushing the
use of settler colonialism in publications and projects outside of the Asian
Settler Colonialism anthology.35 With projects ranging from the role of the
Hawai‘i elementary education curriculum in sustaining colonialism, engagements with anarcha- indigenism, and the settler appropriation of indigeneity in the green movement, to name a few, many established and
emerging scholars are wrestling with settler colonialism in multiply distinct
ways. Other scholars have found the application of settler colonialism limiting and problematic.36 At the core of the debate are two different ways of
conceptualizing power and alliance building.
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294 · Dean Itsuji Saranillio
Much of the criticism pertains to the creation of binaries, particularly
an indigenous and settler binary, even though conventional narrations of
Hawai‘i’s history utilize a “local” against haole (whites) binary. In much of
the scholarship on Hawai‘i, histories are framed in a one- to- one relationship
with white supremacy. In other words, histories of Kānaka Maoli are framed
as haole and Hawaiians, or, like much of the lit erature on plantation labor,
situate different Asian groups and haole. Divide and conquer is commonly
used, but these still argue for marginalized groups to or ga nize around a
shared oppression where one is either oppressed or oppressive. Rarely are
studies of diverse marginalized communities framed in relation to each
other, for instance, Asian groups and Kānaka Maoli, or like Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Okamura’s earlier critiques of Japa nese racism against
Filipinos in Hawai‘i, which also generated “controversy” in Asian American studies. Indeed, previous framings of power are themselves guilty of a
binary analy sis of power. Where power operates unidirectionally from the
power ful to the powerless, one is either oppressed or oppressive. Instead,
an analy sis of settler colonialism and other structures of white supremacy
utilize a conception of power that is understood to be productive and multidirectional, where power simultaneously targets at the same time that it
operates through our actions, desires, ambitions, practices, anxi eties, and
fears. Such an analy sis of power helps us to conceptualize a settler critique
that is simultaneously critical of the logics of white supremacy at the same
time it informs our visual world with real consequences, placing one in direct conversation with a history of settler colonialism in the United States
that is often deliberately obfuscated.
In Nandita Sharma and Cynthia Wright’s response to Bonita Lawrence
and Enakshi Dua’s essay “Decolonizing Antiracism,” they argue that processes of migration should not be confl ated with aspects of settler colonialism. Migration in and of itself does not equate to colonialism; however, migration to a space already in the throes of colonization means the po liti cal
agency operates in complex ways within structures of settler colonialism.
Migration to a colonial space means there is land and resources under
po liti cal, ecological, and spiritual contestation. As Shalini Puri argues,
in paying attention to the politics of location and forced migration, a more
productive transnationalism might instead ask, “How do I, even as a dissident, participate in nationally mediated structures of power and oppression?”37 This way of shifting the debate from arguing one’s oppression to
rather simultaneously question how one might replicate the colonial conditions that facilitate an indigenous diaspora is what I believe is useful about
thinking through settler colonialism.
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Settler Colonialism · 295
In a similar vein, what happens to the issues that do not oppress all marginalized communities— specifi cally, the kind of colonial power that benefi ts settlers at the expense of Indigenous peoples? With each po liti cal project responding to their own unique location within changing conditions
and overlapping formations of local and global power, certain analyses and
insights of one racial pro ject can help to illuminate blind spots or silences
within the next. Andrea Smith’s conceptual frame that white supremacy is
made up of distinct but interrelated logics— labor exploitation, genocide
(settler colonialism), and war (Orientalism)— provides a useful framework
for centering relational thinking. Smith argues that dominant conceptions
of co ali tion politics are framed around a shared victimization by white supremacy, often resulting in the “oppression Olympics”— where groups issue
competing narratives over who is more oppressed. Smith’s intervention
shows how different historical groups are not affected by white supremacy
uniformly and demonstrates how strategies for re sis tance are often themselves set by a system of white supremacy.38
While naming all the discursive logics of white supremacy is an elusive
pro ject, Smith’s tactical assemblage of labor, genocide, and war helps to articulate an awareness of these overlapping yet nonequivalent forms of oppression, especially when liberal multiculturalism is pervasive in fl attening the important historical and po liti cal differences between dissimilarly
oppressed groups. The fi rst logic of oppression she identifi es is labor exploitation, where blackness is often equated with a certain “slaveability.” A
modifi cation of this pillar for the specifi cities of Hawai‘i’s history can turn
to numerous labor histories that have examined the production of a hierarchy of differently racialized ethnic groups in maintaining labor exploitation
and its role in Hawai‘i’s militant unionism.39 The second pillar is genocide
or settler colonialism, through which the indigenous must “disappear” so
that others can lay a claim over their land. Genocide (whether through
physical extermination or cultural assimilation40) and its counterpart settler colonialism work hand in hand as a system of power that expropriates
Native territories and eliminates Native modes of production in order to
replace these seemingly primitive socie ties with settlers who are discursively
constituted as superior and thus more deserving over these contested lands
and resources. This pillar is easily recognizable in the numerous Hawaiian
histories tracing re sis tance to U.S. occupation but also in recent scholarship in Asian American Studies, such as in Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Okamura’s anthology Asian Settler Colonialism. Dylan Rodriguez’s
Suspended Apocalypse also relocates “Filipino American” subjectivities
within a genealogy of white supremacist genocide and war.41 The last
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296 · Dean Itsuji Saranillio
pillar, Orientalism or war, posits the need for a permanent foreign threat
that “allows the United States to be in a permanent state of war.” Given
Hawai‘i’s strategic military location in the middle of the Pacifi c, U.S. interests in Hawai‘i have been largely dominated by the military.42 Whether
it is the use of Hawai‘i as a stopping point for U.S. soldiers involved in the
Philippine- American war, Japa nese in Hawai‘i before and during World
War II, the concocted threat of so- called communists, or currently, in reference to so- called terrorists, numerous cultural repre sen ta tions have provided justifi cation for the United States to fortify Hawai‘i as a military
outpost. Similarly, Orientalism translates into external and internal foreign threats, materializing in anti- immigration and naturalization laws
constituting many of these groups as “aliens ineligible to citizenship.”43
Andrea Smith’s conceptual frame thus allows one to analyze different systems of power in complex unity by questioning how power simultaneously
targets and operates through each group to participate in differently historically produced and po liti cally mediated forms of hegemony. According to Smith, “This way, our alliances would not be solely based on shared
victimization, but where we are complicit in the victimization of others.”44
Within an ever- growing system reliant on settler accumulation by Native
dispossession since its very inception, American liberation and exploitation are two sides of the same coin. Perhaps, until we become multilingual
in each others’ histories, we will continue to renew a system of imperial
vio len ce and capitalist exploitation.
Notes
1. Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal
of Genocide Research 8, no. 4 (2006): 388.
2. Jared Sexton, Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008); Dean Itsuji Saranillio,
“Kēwaikaliko’s Benocide: Reversing the Imperial Gaze of Rice v. Cayetano and Its
Legal Progeny,” American Quarterly (September 2010): 457–76.
3. See Glen Coulthard, “From Wards of the State to Subjects of Recognition: Marx,
Indigenous Peoples, and the Politics of Dispossession in Denendeh,” in Theorizing Native Studies, ed. Audra Simpson and Andrea Smith (Durham, NC: Duke University
Press, 2014), 56–98; David Harvey, The New Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 137–82.
4. Anna Johnston and Alan Lawson, “Settler Colonies,” in A Companion to Postcolonial Studies, ed. Henry Schwarz and Sangeeta Ray (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005),
361–62.
5. Anna Johnston and Alan Lawson, “Settler Colonies,” in A Companion to Postcolonial Studies, ed. Henry Schwarz and Sangeeta Ray (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005), 362.
Native Studies Keywords, edited by Stephanie Nohelani Teves, et al., University of Arizona Press, 2015. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ucr/detail.action?docID=3411930.
Created from ucr on 2022-06-11 22:46:32. Copyright © 2015. University of Arizona Press. All rights reserved.
Settler Colonialism · 297
6. Patrick Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The
Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event (London: Cassell, 1999), 163.
7. James G. Blaine to James M. Comly, Department of State, December 1, 1881,
in Lorrin A. Thurston, miscellaneous papers, M-144, Hawaii State Archives.
8. Edward W. Said, The Question of Palestine (New York: Vintage, 1972), 9.
9. William Adam Russ Jr., The Hawaiian Republic (1894–98) and Its Strug gle to
Win Annexation (Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna University Press, 1961), 220.
10. Aloha Magazine, March/April 1979.
11. Meiric K. Dutton, Hawaii’s Great Seal and Coat of Arms (Honolulu: Loomis
House Press and Hale Pao o Lumiki, 1960), 14.
12. Philip J. Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999);
Wolfe, Settler Colonialism, 389.
13. Noenoe Silva, Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Re sis tance to American Colonialism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004).
14. Noel J. Kent, Hawaii: Islands Under the Infl uence (Honolulu: University of
Hawai‘i Press), 61, emphasis in original.
15. Henry Yu, Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern
America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).
16. Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States: From
the 1960s to the 1990s (New York: Routledge, 1994), 67–68.
17. Romanzo C. Adams, The Peoples of Hawaii (Honolulu: American Council, Institute of Pacifi c Relations, 1933).
18. Ronald Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore (New York: Back Bay Books,
1998), 171.
19. Takaki, Strangers, 176.
20. Roger Bell, Last Among Equals: Hawaiian Statehood and American Politics (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1984), 293, emphasis added.
21. Kathleen Dickenson Mellen (1895–1969), MS 19, Bishop Museum Archives.
22. “A Petition signed by several hundred Chinese will be presented to the Councils today, asking that the Chinese in Hawaii be given the voting franchise,” Pacifi c
Commercial Advertiser, May 17, 1894.
23. Virgilio Menor Felipe, Hawai‘i: A Pilipino Dream (Honolulu: Mutual, 2002), 198.
24. Joseph C. Finney, “Attitudes of Others Toward Hawaiians,” 79, Hawaiian and
Pacifi c Collections, University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa; See also Ty Kawika Tengan, Native Men Remade: Gender and Nation in Contemporary Hawai‘i (Durham, NC: Duke
University Press, 2008), 45.
25. Karl Marx, Capital (New York: Penguin Classics, 1990), 873–74.
26. E. S. C. Handy and E. G. Handy, Native Planters in Old Hawaii: Their Life,
Lore, and Environment (Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1972), 272.
27. As cited in Ralph S. Kuykendall, Hawaiian Kingdom 1874–1893: The Kalakaua Dynasty (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1967): 637, emphasis added;
Michael Perelman, The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Po liti cal Economy and
the Secret History of Primitive Accumulation (Durham, NC: Duke University Press,
2000), 92.
28. Noelani Goodyear- Kā‘opua, The Seeds We Planted: Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter School (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), 127.
29. See Goodyear- Ka‘ōpua, Seeds We Planted.
Native Studies Keywords, edited by Stephanie Nohelani Teves, et al., University of Arizona Press, 2015. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ucr/detail.action?docID=3411930.
Created from ucr on 2022-06-11 22:46:32. Copyright © 2015. University of Arizona Press. All rights reserved.
298 · Dean Itsuji Saranillio
30. Jeffrey Corntassel, “To Be Ungovernable,” New Socialist 58 (September/October 2006): 37.
31. Hawaii Laborers’ Association, Facts About the Strike (Japa nese strike
pamphlet).
32. As the research and legal actions of scholar Keanu Sai have shown, the Hawaiian Kingdom may have been overthrown, but subjects of the nation had in fact never
relinquished their national sovereignty. The po liti cal consequence of this reality is that
it places past and pre sent Hawai‘i under the formal category of “occupation” rather
than a “colonized” territory, a status with equally different legal implications. I contend that “occupation” and the concept of “settler colonialism” (not to be equated with
“colonized” territory) are not two irreconcilable polarizing frameworks but are actually both pertinent to an understanding of the uniqueness of Hawai‘i’s situation and
the multiple tactics that the United States has utilized to dominate Hawai‘i. Thus, Keanu Sai’s framework, which examines international law, sovereignty, and occupation
at the legal level provides a clear understanding of the illegitimacy of the occupying
United States while a discussion of settler colonialism, at the level of power relations,
can help to describe the form of power that was used to normalize such occupation.
Moreover, these forms of power were also used to establish a violent rationale through
which Hawaiians are relegated to being permanently “unfi t for self- government” while
settlers (Asian and haole), although contentious with one another, are afforded the masculine and intellectual capacity to turn “primitive” Hawaiian lands into “modern”
and “demo cratic” socie ties. In other words, Hawai‘i’s patterns of settlement, legal and
sovereign legacies, and the colonial discourses of dominance that enabled them share
characteristics of both settler colonialism and a nation under occupation.
33. Anna Johnston and Allan Lawson, “Settler Colonies,” in A Companion to
Postcolonial Studies, ed. Henry Schwartz and Sangeeta Ray (Malden, MA: WileyBlackwell, 2004), 374.
34. Candace Fujikane, “Introduction: Asian Settler Colonialism in the U.S. Colony of Hawai‘i,” in Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of
Everyday Life in Hawai‘i, ed. Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Y. Okamura (Honolulu:
University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008), 36.
35. Hokulani Aikau, “Indigeneity in the Diaspora: The Case of Native Hawaiians
at Iosepa, Utah,” American Quarterly (September 2010); Chosen People, a Promised
Land: Mormonism and Race in Hawai‘i (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
2012); Cristina Bacchilega, Legendary Hawai‘i and the Politics of Place: Tradition, Translation, and Tourism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007); Kim
Compoc, “Filipinos and Statehood: Refl ections on American Assimilation and Settler
Complicity” (master’s thesis, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, 2010); Candace Fujikane, “Foregrounding Native Nationalisms: A Critique of Antinationalist Sentiment in
Asian American Studies,” in Asian American Studies After Critical Mass, ed. Kent A.
Ono (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005); “Asian American Critique and Moana Nui 2011:
Securing a Future Beyond Empires, Militarized Capitalism and APEC,” Inter- Asia
Cultural Studies (March 2012); Goodyear- Ka‘ōpua, Seeds We Planted; Bianca Isaki,
“HB 645, Settler Sexuality, and the Politics of Local Asian Domesticity in Hawai‘i,”
Settler Colonial Studies 1, no. 2 (2011); Julie Kaomea, “Indigenous Studies in the Elementary Curriculum: A Cautionary Hawaiian Example,” Anthropology and Education Quarterly 36, no. 1 (2005); J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism
Native Studies Keywords, edited by Stephanie Nohelani Teves, et al., University of Arizona Press, 2015. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ucr/detail.action?docID=3411930.
Created from ucr on 2022-06-11 22:46:32. Copyright © 2015. University of Arizona Press. All rights reserved.
Settler Colonialism · 299
and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press,
2008); Karen K. Kosasa, “Searching for the ‘C’ Word: Museums, Art Galleries, and
Settler Colonialism in Hawai‘i,” in Studies in Settler Colonialism: Politics, Identity and
Culture, ed. Fiona Bateman and Lionel Pilkington (New York: Palgrave Macmillan,
2011); Roderick Labrador, “Filipino Community Building” (unpublished manuscript);
Laura Lyons, “From the Indigenous to the Indigent: Homelessness and Settler Colonialism in Hawai‘i,” in Studies in Settler Colonialism: Politics, Identity and Culture, ed.
Fiona Bateman and Lionel Pilkington (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011);
Yuichiro Onishi, “Occupied Okinawa on the Edge: On Being Okinawan in Hawai‘i
and U.S. Colonialism toward Okinawa,” American Quarterly 64, no. 4 (2012): 741–65;
Judy Rohrer, “Attacking Trust: Hawai‘i as a Crossroads and Kamehameha Schools in
the Crosshairs,” American Quarterly (September 2010); Dean Itsuji Saranillio, “Colliding Histories: Hawai‘i Statehood at the Intersection of Asians ‘Ineligible to Citizenship’ and Hawaiians ‘Unfi t for Self- Government,’ ” Journal of Asian American Studies
13, no. 3 (October 2010); “Why Asian Settler Colonialism Matters: A Thought Piece
on Critiques, Debates, and Indigenous Difference,” Settler Colonial Studies 3, no. 3/4
(2013): 280–94; Stephanie Nohelani Teves, “We’re All Hawaiian Now: Kanaka Maoli
Per for mance and the Politics of Aloha” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2012); Ida
Yoshinaga, “Pacifi c (War) Time at Punchbowl: A Nebutsu for Unclaiming Nation,”
Chain 11 (Summer 2004).
36. Dana Y. Takagi, “Faith, Race, and Nationalism,” Journal of Asian American
Studies 7, no. 3 (October, 2004): 277; Davianna Pomaika‘i McGregor, “Un- melting
20th Century Myths of the Chicago School About Hawai‘i” (paper presented at the
Association for Asian American Studies, April 9, 2008); Gary Okihiro, Island World: A
History of Hawai‘i and the United States (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 4.
37. Shalini Puri, The Ca rib bean Postcolonial: Social Equality, Post- nationalism, and
Cultural Hybridity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 24.
38. Andrea Smith, “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy:
Rethinking Women of Color Or ga niz ing,” in Color of Vio len ce: The INCITE! Anthology (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2006), 66–67.
39. Ronald Takaki, Pau Hana: Plantation Life and Labor in Hawaii (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1984); Gary Okihiro, Cane Fires: The Anti- Japanese Movement in Hawaii, (1865–1945) (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991); Edward D.
Beechert, Working in Hawaii: A Labor History (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press,
1985); Moon- Kie Jung, Reworking Race: The Making of Hawaii’s Interracial Labor
Movement (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).
40. See Dylan Rodriguez, Suspended Apocalypse: White Supremacy, Genocide, and
the Filipino Condition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), 190–217;
Patrick Wolfe, “Structure and Event: Settler Colonialism, Time, and the Question of
Genocide,” in Empire, Colony, Genocide: Conquest, Occupation, and Subaltern Re sistance in World History, ed. A. Dirk Moses (New York: Berghan, 2008), 102–32.
41. Lilikala Kame‘eleihiwa, Native Land and Foreign Desires: Pehea La E Pono Ai?
(Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1992); Jonathan Kamakawiwo‘ole Osorio, Dismembering Lahui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887 (Honolulu: University of
Hawai‘i Press, 2002); Noenoe K. Silva, Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Re sis tance to
American Colonialism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004); J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity
Native Studies Keywords, edited by Stephanie Nohelani Teves, et al., University of Arizona Press, 2015. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ucr/detail.action?docID=3411930.
Created from ucr on 2022-06-11 22:46:32. Copyright © 2015. University of Arizona Press. All rights reserved.
300 · Dean Itsuji Saranillio
(Durham: Duke University Press, 2008); Tengan, Native Men Remade; Sally Engle
Merry, Colonizing Hawai‘i: The Cultural Power of Law (Prince ton, NJ: Prince ton University Press, 2000); Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Okamura, eds., Asian Settler
Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai‘i (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008); Dylan Rodriguez, Suspended Apocalypse:
White Supremacy, Genocide, and the Filipino Condition (Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press, 2009).
42. See Brian McAllister Linn, Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacifi c, 1902–1940 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997); Kathy E.
Ferguson and Phyllis Turnbull, Oh, Say, Can You See? The Semiotics of the Military
in Hawai‘i (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999).
43. Keith Aoki, “No Right To Own: The Early Twentieth- Century ‘Alien Land
Laws’ as a Prelude to Internment,” Boston College Law Review 37 (1998).
44. Smith, “Three Pillars,” 69.
Native Studies Keywords, edited by Stephanie Nohelani Teves, et al., University of Arizona Press, 2015. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ucr/detail.action?docID=3411930.
Created from ucr on 2022-06-11 22:46:32. Copyright © 2015. University of Arizona Press. All rights reserved.


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