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Hawai'i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific

by Nitasha Tamar Sharma

Duke University Press, 2021


Cloth: 978-1-4780-1346-4

eISBN: 978-1-4780-2166-7

OA eISBN: 978-1-4780-9381-7

Paper: 978-1-4780-1437-9

About the Book
Hawaiʻi Is My Haven maps the context and contours of Black life in the Hawaiian Islands. This ethnography emerges from a decade of fieldwork with both Hawaiʻi-raised Black locals and Black transplants who moved to the Islands from North America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Nitasha Tamar Sharma highlights the paradox of Hawaiʻi as a multiracial paradise and site of unacknowledged antiBlack racism. While Black culture is ubiquitous here, African-descended people seem invisible. In this formerly sovereign nation structured neither by the US Black/White binary nor the one-drop rule, nonWhite multiracials, including Black Hawaiians and Black Koreans, illustrate the coarticulation and limits of race and the native/settler divide. Despite erasure and racism, nonmilitary Black residents consider Hawaiʻi their haven, describing it as a place to “breathe” that offers the possibility of becoming local. Sharma's analysis of race, indigeneity, and Asian settler colonialism shifts North American debates in Black and Native studies to the Black Pacific. Hawaiʻi Is My Haven illustrates what the Pacific offers members of the African diaspora and how they in turn illuminate race and racism in “paradise.”
About the Author
Nitasha Tamar Sharma is Professor of African American Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University, author of Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness, also published by Duke University Press, and coeditor of Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawai‘i.
“Highlighting the place of Hawai‘i as a site for analyzing the most pressing cultural, political, and economic currents facing our world, Nitasha Tamar Sharma provides a unique and nuanced view into the complex flows of Islander life while creating new spaces for Black and multiracial voices that are all too frequently silenced. This much-needed work makes an important contribution to theorizing race and indigeneity together in American studies, ethnic studies, African American studies, and Native and Indigenous studies.”

-- Ty P. Kawika Tengan, author of Native Men Remade: Gender and Nation in Contemporary Hawai‘i

“This is an elegantly written, trenchantly argued, and persuasively rendered ethnography of African Americans in Hawai‘i. It is simultaneously a landmark pointing the way to how the United States itself may evolve in the twenty-first century as it comes to resemble, racially and ethnically, the vibrant fiftieth state.”

-- Gerald Horne, author of The White Pacific: U.S. Imperialism and Black Slavery in the South Seas After the Civil War

"Hawaiʻi Is My Haven is an ambitious and original work of scholarship. By focusing on an oft-overlooked demographic, it creates a fuller, more accurate picture of Hawaii’s history."

-- Eric Stinton Honolulu Civil Beat

"This book will be of interest to scholars of Pacific settlement histories, transnational and ethnocultural identities, colonialism, and indigenous activism. For those teaching Pacific studies courses, this volume adds a new dimension to Hawaiian histories of migration, settler colonization, and multiculturalism, as well as current alignments in social justice movements."

-- Michelle Ladwig Williams Pacific Affairs

"This is an interesting and important work for scholars in the fields [of Native and Indigenous studies, mixed-race
studies, African American studies, American studies, and ethnic studies.] But for Hawaiian scholars and/or activists invested in a more pono future for Hawai‘i, this book is required reading."

-- Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada Native American and Indigenous Studies

Hawaiians, Indigeneity, Racism, Asian American & Pacific Islander Studies, Ethnic identity, Native American Studies, Ethnic relations, Race, Race relations, African Americans, African American & Black Studies, Social conditions, Cultural & Ethnic Studies, American, Social Science
Open Access Information

Label: National Endowment for the Humanities

License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0