Native Hawaiian Decolonization and the Politics of Gender

Kehaulani Kauanui

My research examines why feminist assertions within the Hawaiian nationalist movement are silenced, by male and female activists alike, but not because Native Hawaiian feminism is seen as irreconcilable with Hawaiian cultural norms; instead, feminism is typically viewed as unnecessary and superfluous. I suggest that this view is based on the fact that there are so many Native Hawaiian women in leadership positions within the movement. This perception also seems to rest on the widespread understanding that prior to British and Euro-American colonialism, Native Hawaiian culture was egalitarian, not patriarchal. This popular understanding is critical to the current nationalist context, wherein the movement as a whole encourages a rethinking of the Hawaiian past as a basis for cultural reclamation projects in the service of political mobilization. My argument is twofold: (1) gender oppression has been a mode of imperialism in the history of Hawai’i; and (2) the nationalist struggles over the meaning of precolonial history with regard to both gender and sexuality constitute a significant political terrain within the context of Native Hawaiian decolonization. From this perspective, the recovery of pre- colonial history for the nationalist struggles, along with a research agenda that focuses on the history of U.S. imperialism and gender oppression in Hawai’i, is crucial to an engages politics of decolonization.

Research Type(s)
Journal Article
Submitted by Toksave
March 23, 2021
Published in

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