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12 - I Kū Mau Mau (Standing Together): Native Hawaiian Literary Politics

from Part II - Assimilation and Modernity (1879–1967)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2020

Melanie Benson Taylor
Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
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Native Hawaiian literature has always provided a foundation of knowledge suggesting a course of action, particularly in times of tremendous social, cultural, and political upheaval. In this way, such literature has always been intertwined with politics. Despite settler colonial attempts to appropriate or subvert the political power of Hawaiian literature, Native Hawaiians continue to evoke traditional orature and compose new literature to directly respond to conditions of settler colonialism, while celebrating the beauty, complexity and continuity of our people and our connection to our land and culture. This essay traces the origins and development of Hawaiian literature as a strategy of national political and cultural consciousness. Reclaiming Indigenous literature from the settler colonial imaginary is an integral part of Hawaiian identity, sovereignty, and nation building. In practice and performance, contemporary Hawaiian literature is an expression of kū mau mau, standing together with a cohesive political purpose to uplift the nation.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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