Associate Professor Hokulani Aikau
I am a native Hawaiian who was born in Hawai'i but raised and educated in the diaspora. My research and teaching interests and commitments stem from my experience as a Kanaka Maoli who grew up in a deeply religious community of Polynesians living in Utah. As an ‘off–island’ Hawaiian, I was surrounded by stories of ‘back home’ and engulfed in the sounds and smells of the islands each week when various Polynesian families shared food, stories and music on Sunday afternoons at our house. Although I didn't know it at the time, these gatherings were an essential part of how I came to know what it meant to be Hawaiian. When I returned to Hawai'i nei in 2003, the stories that filled my childhood took on more meanings as the places and events came to life around me. Since returning to Hawai'i, I finished my dissertation titled “Polynesian Pioneers: Twentieth Century Religious Racial Formations and Migration in Hawai'i” began taking Hawaiian language classes at UH Mānoa and completed my Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. In August 2005 I joined the faculty in the Political Science department. I currently teach courses in the Indigenous Politics focus area and cross–listed courses with Women's Studies.
My research interests include contemporary native Hawaiian identity and politics, feminist theory, and critical race theory. I just completed an edited collection of titled, Feminist Waves, Feminist Generations: Life Stories of Three Generations in the Academy, 1968-1998(University of Minnesota Press, 2007), co–authored with Karla Erickson and Jennifer Pierce. My recent publications include: a special issue of Alternatives: Global Local, Political, “The Political Economy of Development in Indigenous Communities,” co–edited with Jim Spencer, and an article, “Resisting Exile in the Promised Land: He Mo'olelo no La'ie,” American Indian Quarterly. I am currently working on a book project titled, Negotiations of Faith: Mormonism, Identity, and Native Hawaiian Struggles for Self–determination.
Feminist Theory (POLS 339/WS 439)
This course explores the contemporary feminist theorizing about how to approach women's oppression and their strategies of resistance. Analyzing women's oppression entails generalizing about women. How do we generalize about women without projecting one set of experiences onto all of us and without recreating the exclusionary categories that enable heteropatriarchy and capitalism? The course shows us how contemporary feminist scholars have re–examined how the category ‘woman’ is constructed and defined as they explore how gender and sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, globalization, nationalism and colonialism are intersectional axes of both power and privilege.
Hawai'i Politics II (POLS 302)
Newspaper headlines offer a snapshot of the political terrain in a given community, but far too often, the stories themselves oversimplify and mask the complex political struggles and contestations at play in the community. In this course we will consider a range of contested issues that comprise Hawai'i's political arena, including the battles being fought in the courts, in the classroom, and on the streets over who is Hawaiian and whom does Hawai'i nei “belong.” On August 2, 2005, the Honolulu Advertiser featured a story titled “Court rules against Kamehameha admissions.” We will begin this course with an extensive examination of the broad reaching implications of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (2 August 2005) decision on the Kamehameha Schools' admission policy. In addition to the Doe v Kamehameha we will also look at the Rice v Cayetano (2000), arguably, one of the most important court decisions to impact Hawai'i in recent decades. From the juridical terrain we will move to an exploration of the historical record and explore the contested space of Hawai'i historiography paying close attention to how history is written and the political implications of knowledge production. As Foucault observed, knowledge is power, thus how history is written — whether from the perspective of the colonizers or the subaltern — is a political act. In addition, we will examine the contested space of cultural production in the tourism industry. What is the political economy of culture in Hawai'i and how have Hawaiian cultural expressions and productions come to be mobilized in explicitly political ways?
Contemporary Native Hawaiian Politics (POLS 684)
In this course we will consider a range of contested issues that comprise Hawai'i's political arena, including the battles being fought in the courts, in the classroom, and in the streets over who is Hawaiian and to whom does Hawai'i nei “belong.” We will begin with a solid ground grounding in Hawai'i history written by Kanaka and ‘local’ authors. We will then focus on several key issues including: a discussion of how Kanaka Maoli are responding to and the implications of recent court cases intended to dismantle “Hawaiians Only” programs; the status of Native Hawaiians in the Hawai'i school system and the strategies deployed to address existing disparities; the political economy of tourism for Kanaka communities; and we will also consider related issues of representation and identity. Who gets to define who is “Kanaka Maoli”? Who is “Hawaiian”? What role can the Hawaiian diaspora play in discussions of Hawaiian self–determination and independence?
Political Inquiry and Analysis (POLS 390)
This is a Writing Intensive and Contemporary Ethics course. We will utilize a series of readings to examine the relationship between epistemology (what we know) and methodology (the means by which we produce what we know) within the field of Political Science. Knowledge claims lay the foundation for what constitutes truth, acts, logic, argumentation as well as the strategies of resistance one deploys. As a course on political inquiry and analysis, our focus will be on how one goes about conducting social and political research. This course offers students and introductory survey and analysis of methods used in empirical research, ethnographic research, and social criticism. A central feature of this course will be a research project that each student will first outline, and then implement on a topic of interest to her or him
Politics of Indigenous Representations (POLS 621)
This course will examine the political and cultural economy of images as well as modes of production that determine how indigenous peoples represent themselves (aesthetic production) and are represented (who speaks for indigenous peoples in the political arena). A third form of representation will also be considered, the role of researcher in the production of theory (intellectual production). Whether we are indigenous scholars working within our own communities or non–indigenous working with indigenous groups, the question of who and how we represent the ‘other’ must be asked and examined. This course will assist students in asking and answering this question for themselves and will allow them the space to think through the ethnical, moral, philosophical and personal issues implicated in such a project.
Indigenous Theory (POLS 720)
According to Ronald Niezen (2003), the study of indigenous identity is founded upon a paradox: although the term indigenous (used to refer to human societies) is relatively new —the 1980s— it “invokes people's sense of permanence and ability to survive and stay close to their cultures and homelands despite almost insurmountable odds” (xxi). For many indigenous peoples these insurmountable odds are directly linked to colonial, postcolonial and neocolonial global processes. In addition to a shared commitment to the issues of racism, oppression, liberation, nationalism, and decolonization, Indigenous and postcolonial scholars have written extensively about this common legacy of upheaval from land, cultural practices, language, and epistemologies. But where do these literatures diverge? What unique perspectives do indigenous authors bring to these long–standing global processes? As feminists contend, these processes are also highly gendered and liberation is not possible without also dismantling patriarchal systems and structures of domination that correspond with these structures of power. In this course we are not merely interested in how various scholars have critiqued these global systems but we are interested in the politics of the production of knowledge. Knowledge claims lay the foundation for what resistance one deploys. Far too often, Western “ways of knowing” or epistemologies take on hegemonic status rendering “Other” epistemologies inferior by claiming they are not theory but merely descriptive. In this course, we will de–center hegemonic ways of knowing in order to explore how indigenous scholars are producing knowledge, theorizing, for and about their peoples. As we critically engage the readings and develop our ideas through class discussion and writing assignments two questions will guide us: Does “theory” only reflect hegemonic knowledge claims and how can indigenous ways of knowing/indigenous epistemologies transform how we produce theory? What are the transformative possibilities of indigenous theory?