Co-presented by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU and NYU Native Studies Forum.
In his new book Unsustainable Empire: Alternative Histories of Hawai‘i Statehood (Duke University Press, 2018), Dean Itsuji Saranillio (NYU Department of Social & Cultural Analysis) offers a bold challenge to the narrative that the 1959 admission of Hawai‘i, a largely non-white territory, as a US state was a civil rights victory. Rather, Saranillio argues that the expansion of US empire into the Pacific was imperative to the sustainability of the American economy, and foregrounds the long history of Native Hawaiian opposition to statehood. Saranillio marshals a variety of unexpected genres and archives including political cartoons, propaganda films, water struggles, and stories of hauntings to maintain that, today, Native Hawaiian place-based alternatives to US empire are urgently needed. Following a presentation from Saranillio, J. Kēhaulani Kauanui (Wesleyan University), Nikhil Singh (NYU Department of Social & Cultural Analysis), and Símon Trujillo (NYU Department of English) offer responses.
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