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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities


Hawaiian Decolonization and the Enduring Question of Feminism


Hawaiian Decolonization and the Enduring Question of Feminism


J. KEHAULANI KAUANUI • Wesleyan University

October 4 @ 6 P.M. DHC/DAC Tent (aka Hogwarts)

Related to a new book project (in-progress), this presentation will address the politics of contemporary Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) women’s nationalist activism in the 1980s and 1990s, which includes the construction and deployment of cultural discourses of reclamation in the area of gender and sexuality within Hawaiian nationalist initiatives. In short, the talk explores how feminism poses an epistemological problem for Indigenous sovereignty. The majority of what has been produced on the question of Hawaiian women and feminism was produced by Haunani-Kay Trask (1949-2021). She went from identifying as a feminist – as reflected in her first book, Eros and Power: The Promise of Feminist Theory (1986) – to dismissing feminism altogether as irrelevant to the realities of Native Hawaiian women in her last, From a Native Daughter (1992). Trask advanced a critique of the Western individualism promoted by white American feminism, which she argues undermines Hawaiian collective struggles for self-determination. The lecture will engage Trask’s political critique of feminism, as both a cultural and political problem in relation to the Hawaiian context, along with the speaker’s reckoning with her own shifting political trajectory with regard to these questions.

Consent & Subjection
View Fall 2021 Lecture List

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