Asian Settler Colonialism’s Histories

Authored by: Bianca Kai Isaki

The Routledge Handbook of Asian American Studies

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415738255
eBook ISBN: 9781315817514
Adobe ISBN: 9781317813927


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In 2000, a special issue of Amerasia journal, “Whose Vision? Asian Settler Colonialism in Hawai’i” first took “Asian settler colonialism” (ASC) as an object of critical scholarly inquiry (Fujikane and Okamura 2000). ASC describes futures of past practices of land theft and political control through which descendants of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Asian migrant laborers moved into middle-class American-ness in Hawai’i. It concerns the complicity, and resistance, but mostly complicity, of Asian settlers in the colonization of Hawai’i. Asian American studies, however, with its historical focus on the alliances between U.S. racial minorities and immigrants in civil rights struggles, offered a limited frame within which to approach Asian settlers’ beleaguered relationship to Hawaiians’ indigeneity. 1 (Fujikane 2005, 174). Since the Hawaiian “renaissance” of the 1970s, Hawaiians have reasserted their history of colonial resistance and unrelinquished national sovereign independence (Kanahele 1982, 25). Hawaiian sovereignty struggles have also pushed Asian settlers to answer for our participation in strategies of displacement through which Hawaiian nationality was made to not matter. Amerasia contributor, Haunani-Kay Trask wrote:

Asians and haole [whites] have been thrown into a cauldron of defensive actions by our nationalist struggle. Either they must justify their continued benefit from Hawaiian subjugation, thus serving as support for that subjugation, or they must repudiate American hegemony and work with the Hawaiian nationalist movement.

Trask (2000, 20)

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