Today marks the sixtieth anniversary of Hawai‘i’s official admission into the U.S. as a state. While many tourists visiting Hawai‘i may commemorate Statehood Day by experiencing the astounding natural beauty and rich cultural traditions of the islands firsthand, anyone can devote some time to honoring Hawai‘i on this holiday by learning more about the archipelago’s complicated path to statehood.
We’ve highlighted several of our related titles below. By delving into historical issues of native sovereignty and popular protest against annexation, these books not only challenge wholly celebratory narratives of Hawaiian statehood but also illuminate the complex legacy of settler colonialism in contemporary Hawai‘i.
In the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) of 1921, the U.S. Congress defined “native Hawaiians” as those people “with at least one-half blood quantum of individuals inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778.” In Hawaiian Blood, J. Kēhaulani Kauanui provides an impassioned assessment of how the arbitrary correlation of ancestry and race imposed by the U.S. government on the indigenous people of Hawai‘i has had far-reaching legal and cultural effects.
Kauanui is also the author of Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty, which examines contradictions of indigeneity and self-determination in U.S. domestic policy and international law. In this book, Kauanui shows how Hawaiian elites’ approaches to reforming land, gender, and sexual regulation in the early nineteenth century that paved the way for sovereign recognition of the kingdom complicate contemporary nationalist activism, which too often includes disavowing the indigeneity of indigenous Hawaiians.
In Unsustainable Empire Dean Itsuji Saranillio offers a bold challenge to conventional understandings of Hawai‘i’s admission as a U.S. state, showing that statehood was neither the expansion of U.S. democracy nor a strong nation swallowing a weak and feeble island nation, but the result of a U.S. nation whose economy was unsustainable without enacting a more aggressive policy of imperialism.
A powerful critique of colonial historiography, Noenoe K. Silva’s Aloha Betrayed provides a much-needed history of native Hawaiian resistance to American imperialism. Drawing on Hawaiian-language texts, primarily newspapers produced in the nineteenth century and early twentieth, Silva demonstrates that print media was central to social communication, political organizing, and the perpetuation of Hawaiian language and culture.
Nation Within by Tom Coffman details the complex history of the events between the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in 1893 and its annexation to the United States in 1898. Highlighting the native Hawaiians’ resistance during that five-year span, Coffman shows why occupying Hawaiʻi was crucial to American imperial ambitions.
A Nation Rising, edited by Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua, Ikaika Hussey, and Erin Kahunawaika′ala Wright, chronicles the political struggles and grassroots initiatives collectively known as the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, raising issues that resonate far beyond the Hawaiian archipelago such as Indigenous cultural revitalization, environmental justice, and demilitarization.
Are you planning a trip to Hawai‘i? If you’re interested in learning more about how to practice forms of socially conscious tourism during your visit, we recommend checking out our forthcoming book, Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai‘i, edited by Hokulani K. Aikau and Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez. In this brilliant reinvention of the travel guide, artists, activists, and scholars redirect readers from the fantasy of Hawai‘i as a tropical paradise and tourist destination toward a multilayered and holistic engagement with Hawai‘i’s culture and complex history. The essays, stories, artworks, maps, and tour itineraries in Detours create decolonial narratives in ways that will forever change how readers think about and move throughout Hawai‘i. Detours will be available in November.
The newest special issue of French Historical Studies honors the memory of Rachel G. Fuchs, a French women’s history scholar and former editor of the journal.
“Patriarchy, Protection, and Women’s Agency in Modern France: Essays in Honor of Rachel G. Fuchs,” edited by Elinor Accampo and Venita Datta, pays tribute to Fuchs’s research, which addressed feminist themes central to nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France, such as evolving forms of male power expressed through paternity, the victimization of women and children resulting from industrial capitalism and male abuse of power, and the development of mechanisms to protect the abused through surveillance of potential victims.
Houston A. Baker Jr. is Distinguished University Professor of English and African American Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. He was the editor of American Literature from 1999 to 2006. Here, he remembers Toni Morrison from his time at Howard University.
fortunes of being rejected by selected white colleges and universities during
my senior year of high school manifested themselves when I received, and
accepted, a handsome scholarship offer from Howard University in Washington, DC.
It was 1961. I was leaving my home in Louisville, Kentucky, for the “Capstone
of Negro Education.”
On a sweltering late summer
afternoon, with a small cohort of other African American (then called “Negro”)
high-school matriculants, I boarded a train from Louisville’s Union Station to
Washington, DC. Louisville’s station still boasted the readable sign and
signature of racial segregation: “Colored Waiting Room.” I wondered if I would
find the same at the other end of my journey.
To enter Howard University’s campus
in 1961 was to encounter a neatly maintained greensward sentineled by the
classical cathedral design of Founders Library. Drew Hall (the new men’s
dormitory) was a wonder in its impeccable hospitality. And as we young men sat
on the short wall outside the Ira Aldrige Theater, we were confirmed in our
first impressions that we were indeed occupants of a brave new world. We
marveled at a slow parade of abounding beauty, pristine grace, and assured
self-possession as young women of color made their way past us. These young women
were simply mesmerizing. They seemed so far beyond our country selves. They
left us breathless.
There was no ease in this beautiful
Zion when we entered our first classes a few days later. The Howard professoriate
was unstinting in its demand for excellence. All courses required commitment to
black achievement grounded in a proud legacy of historically black colleges and
universities. During the first week, we were challenged to serious intellection
and adept manners of scholarly exchange.
The foregoing variables were
energized by the uproarious revolts of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
The direct address—the praxis—of that radical assault on centuries of black
abjection and exclusion in America was everywhere near at hand. Black
resistance and revolutionary projects were the temper of the times at 1960s
Howard, despite administrative injunctions for the student body to maintain a
traditional decorum of colored amiability. A crowning moment of my freshman
year was enrollment in a required course whose title I forget but whose import
was something on the order of “Great Books of the World.” I do not recall a
syllabus, but there was a reading list that did not (I believe) include African
The first day of class, students
filed respectfully into the room. I took a seat on the front row as an earnest demonstration
of my consummate interest in everything the professor might have to say. The
professor’s chair was one of those yellowish, hard wooden strongholds that
signify scholarly austerity. The chair sat at the back of the desk.
The moment of arrival unfolded when
one of the most arresting presences I have ever encountered in the academy floated
into the classroom. She moved to the desk, slipped around and past its back, seated herself atop the front of the desk, and sat eloquently at
ease before us. She flashed a welcoming and serious smile. “Good morning. My
name is Toni Morrison. I am your professor for this course. This is a required
course and we will accept no excuse for absence or failure to do the work.” I
was rendered breathless—not so much by her undeniable poise and gesture as by
her calm equanimity of presence and intellectual authority.
Our text was William Faulkner’s “The Bear,” to be taken up at the next
The following class session, I had
nothing to say, having been completely mystified by Faulkner and his bear.
Professor Morrison began to unfold for us an extraordinary explication of the
Faulkner story, when all at once a hand shot up just down the front row from
me, and a loud mellifluous voice commanded: “Black people in the United States
are being beaten and dying. The capitalist system is corrupt. Why are we reading this racist old white
man who said he would defend Mississippi against any civil rights intervention
with a shotgun in hand?” He continued: “We
should be reading Chairman Mao and Che Guevara. We should be learning the sober
dialectics of revolution.”
It was, indeed, the voice of
Stokely Carmichael. His face was swollen, and he had a bandage over his right
eye from participation in a civil rights action in neighboring Maryland just a
few days before. He looked weary and incredulous that something as seemingly
inane as a Faulkner story should ever occupy the mind of any black student.
Without so much as a small
readjustment of her professorial posture, Professor Morrison answered: “Mr.
Carmichael, scripture tells us there is a time and place for every occasion.
For today, the time before us is reserved for Faulkner’s masterpiece “The Bear.” Please, let us continue, in
season, with Faulkner’s astonishing creative achievement.”
Silence fell. Professor Morrison’s
lucid and brilliant explication recommenced.
As class was adjourning, I found
the courage to say hello to a young woman who had returned my friendly nod
during the prior class session. I ventured an opinion: “That was pretty
terrific of Professor Morrison to put Faulkner and his complicated book ahead
of the civil rights movement, wasn’t it? I’m Houston.”
She said: “Hi, I’m Charlotte. And,
yes, I think Professor Morrison was astonishing in her handling of Mr.
Toni Morrison became my ever-loved
genius of the humanities and authorship.
Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Touré)
still represents my best exemplar of what it means to be young, brilliant, and daringly
committed to the global struggle for black liberation. Charlotte eventually
became my wife. And in the late ’90s, Charlotte’s publisher sent Toni Morrison
a draft copy of her book Surviving the
Silence: Black Women’s Stories of Rape. Toni Morrison called Charlotte of a
winter’s evening and lauded her book: “This,” she said, “is a love story.” Toni
Morrison befriended my academic career and writing at many a turn of life’s
wheel. News of our professor’s passing is very, very hard to bear in these most
awful of times in America.
We were deeply saddened to learn that Ann Snitow passed away on August 10th after battling bladder cancer. Snitow was Associate Professor of Literature and Gender Studies at Lang College, The New School, in New York City. She was the author of The Feminism of Uncertainty, published by us in 2015.
A longtime activist, Snitow cofounded The Network of East-West Women, No More Nice Girls, and New York Radical Feminists. She wrote for The Village Voice, The Nation, The Women’s Review of Books, Dissent, and many other publications, and is coeditor of Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality and The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women’s Liberation.
“Over nearly half a century, Ms. Snitow mobilized feminists, often at her kitchen table in Soho, and chronicled their ebbs and flows in six books and scores of articles in publications including The Village Voice, The Nation and Dissent,” wrote Kit Seelye in the New York Times.
We offer our condolences to Professor Snitow’s colleagues, friends, and family.
Groundbreaking, beloved author Toni Morrison’s literary legacy will continue to reverberate long beyond her lifetime. In the wake of her death, we are honored to offer a small tribute: a reading list of American Literature articles that study her work, all made freely available through the end of November.
This special issue examines the stakes of orienting toward or away from disability as a category and as a method. Building on Sara Ahmed’s conceptualization of “orientation” as the situating of queer and raced bodies, the contributors ask how the category of disability might also change how we think of bodies orienting in space and time. Are all paths, desire lines, objects, and interpellations equally accessible? How do we conceptualize access in different spaces? What kind of theoretical and empirical turns might emerge in disorienting disability?
Drawing on feminist studies, critical race studies, and queer studies, the contributors probe the meanings of the term disability and consider disability in relation to other categories of difference such as race, gender, and class. Essays challenge the historicity of disability; push disability studies to consider questions of loss, pain, and trauma; question the notion of disability as another form of diversity; and expand arguments about the ethics of care to consider communities not conventionally defined as disabled.
The issue’s Against the Day section, “Contentious Crossings: Struggles and Alliances for Freedom of Movement across the Mediterranean Sea,” brings together researchers and activists to reflect on struggles against the European border regime. All articles in this section are freely available for six months.
You might also find these recent books in disability studies of interest:
In this revised and expanded edition of Medicine Stories, Aurora Levins Morales weaves together the insights and lessons learned over a lifetime of activism to offer a new theory of social justice, bringing clarity and hope to tangled, emotionally charged social issues in beautiful and accessible language.
In Black Madness :: Mad Blackness Therí Alyce Pickens examines the speculative and science fiction of Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due to rethink the relationship between race and disability, thereby unsettling the common theorization that they are mutually constitutive.
Jane Gallop explores how disability and aging are commonly understood to undermine one’s sense of self in Sexuality, Disability, and Aging. She challenges narratives that register the decline of bodily potential and ability as nothing but an experience of loss.
Bridging black feminist theory with disability studies, in Bodyminds Reimagined, Sami Schalk traces how black women’s speculative fiction complicates the understanding of bodyminds in the context of race, gender, and (dis)ability, showing how the genre’s exploration of bodyminds that exist outside of the present open up new social and ethical possibilities.
Our Fall 2019 season is off to a phenomenal start with a diverse range of titles in Theory and Philosophy, African American Studies, Native and Indigenous Studies, and more. Take a look at all of these great new books coming in August!
Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory by Patricia Hill Collins offers a set of analytical tools for those wishing to develop intersectionality’s capability to theorize social inequality in ways that would facilitate social change.
In Animate Literacies, Nathan Snaza proposes a new theory of literature and literacy in which he outlines how literacy operates at the interface of humans, nonhuman animals, and objects and has been used as a means to define the human in ways that marginalize others.
Mark Rifkin’s Fictions of Land and Flesh turns to black and indigenous speculative fiction to show how it offers a site to better understand black and indigenous political movements’ differing orientations in ways that can foster forms of mutual engagement and cooperation without subsuming them into a single political framework in the name of solidarity.
In The Black Shoals Tiffany Lethabo King uses the shoal—an offshore geologic formation that is neither land nor sea—as metaphor, mode of critique, and methodology to theorize the encounter between Black studies and Native studies and its potential to create new epistemologies, forms of practice, and lines of critical inquiry.
Jairus Victor Grove’s Savage Ecology offers an ecological theorization of geopolitics in which he contends that contemporary global crises are better understood when considered within the larger history of geopolitical practice, showing how political violence is the principal force behind climate change, mass extinction, slavery, genocide, extractive capitalism, and other catastrophes. Watch the trailer for the book here.
In How to Make Art at the End of the World Natalie Loveless examines the institutionalization of artistic research-creation—a scholarly activity that considers art practices as research methods in their own right—and its significance to North American higher education.
Leigh Claire La Berge’s Wages Against Artwork shows how socially engaged art responds to and critiques what she calls decommodified labor—the slow diminishment of wages alongside an increase of demands of work—as a way to work toward social justice and economic equality.
In Sounds of Vacation, edited by Jocelyne Guilbault and Timothy Rommen, the contributors examine the commodification of music and sound at popular vacation destinations throughout the Caribbean in order to tease out the relationships between political economy, hospitality, and the legacies of slavery and colonialism.
Today is World Day against Trafficking in Persons, a day to bring awareness to and encourage action against human trafficking. In honor of this international day, we’re featuring some of our recent journal articles (all available free for six months) and books that explore this global issue.
“In the Trail of the Ship: Narrating the Archives of Illegal Slavery,” featured in the March 2019 issue of Social Text, delves into the strange, contradictory archives of the illegal transatlantic slave trade that flourished between Angola and Brazil in the mid-nineteenth century. The article’s author, Yuko Miki, follows the documentary trail of notorious slave ship Mary E. Smith, focusing on the list of the ship’s Africans who were “liberated” from captivity, most of whom were already deceased.
Author Elena Shih explores why and how Thailand functions as a pivotal destination for US human-trafficking rescue projects in “Freedom Markets: Consumption and Commerce across Human-Trafficking Rescue in Thailand,” featured in the November 2017 issue of positions: asia critique. Basing her research on the global anti-trafficking movement in Thailand, China, and the United States between 2008 and 2014, Shih juxtaposes two distinct tourist encounters: a human-trafficking reality tour hosted by a US nonprofit organization, and a separate study-abroad gathering of US university students hosted at the office of a Thai sex worker rights organization.
You may also be interested in these books about human trafficking:
Street Corner Secretsis an ethnography of women in the city of Mumbai who look for work at nakas, street corners where day laborers congregate and wait to be hired for construction jobs. Often chosen last, after male workers, or not at all, some women turn to sex work in order to make money, at the nakas, on the street, or in brothels. Svati P. Shah argues that sex work should be seen in relation to other structural inequities affecting these women’s lives, such as threats from the police and lack of access to clean water.
Having spent nearly a decade following the lives of formerly trafficked men and women, Denise Brennan recounts in close detail their flight from their abusers and their courageous efforts to rebuild their lives. Life Interrupted is a riveting account of life in and after trafficking and a forceful call for meaningful immigration and labor reform.