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Remapping Lost Geographies: “Pearl Harbor”, Kahoʻolawe, and Spaces of Indigenous (Re)Emergence
March 29, 2021 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow (2020-2021)
Geography and Environment; Ethnic Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
What does it mean for places to become lost? How does one lose their place? Their sense of place? And once lost, can places ever be found, restored, or reclaimed? How can loss (and being lost) become generative as a political resource? My project employs the concept of lost geographies to critically examine processes of United States imperial formation and Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) (re)emergence through the entangled geographical transformations of two military-affected sites in Hawaiʻi. The first, Ke Awalau o Puʻuloa, once a place of abundance for Kānaka ʻŌiwi, became “Pearl Harbor”, the fulcrum of the United States’ original ‘Pacific Pivot’. Second, the island of Kahoʻolawe, a Kanaka ʻŌiwi sacred place once abused as a naval bombing range, became a kīpuka (an oasis or opening) of Kanaka ʻŌiwi political and cultural activism. These cases illuminate how a sense of loss, and of being lost, often animate struggles over land, with wider geopolitical ramifications. Power always resides (and sometimes hides) in place. Attending to these lost geographies of power can help to explain processes by which history takes place.
Kyle Kajihiro earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Geography and Environment from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where teaches classes in Ethnic Studies and Geography and Environment. He has helped to coordinate service-learning programs for the College of Social Sciences. His activism and research focus on U.S. imperial formations, militarization, and decolonization/demilitarization social movements in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Region. Mr. Kajihiro also leads the Hawaiʻi DeTours Project— historical-geographical tours of various sites on Oʻahu which aim to foster solidarities and mutual responsibilities based on ea (life, breath, sovereignty, rising) and aloha ʻāina (love, care, and political commitment to the land). He has previously worked as a labor organizer and as a program staff for a peace and social justice organization.
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