There are many ways to describe people in Hawai‘i – malihini or kama‘aina; tourists or military; visitor or settler colonial. None of these quite suit me. Because I’m African American, I’m mistaken for military; because I live on the continent, when I’m here I’m just a visitor. Because I know this place well – or at least better than most – I might be a kind of kama‘aina by proxy. Hawai‘i is a place that makes you crave belonging, but the space between insider and outsider is, for me, a creative one.
I’m an academic, an Associate Professor at DePaul University. I earned my Ph.D. at the University of Hawai‘i where I began to learn about this place. I’ve spent the last decade thinking, reading and writing about Hawai’i during the territorial era. This period fascinates me, in part because it tends to get skipped over, a fly-over historical terrain that links the annexation to World War II. On this site I’ll be exploring some of the subjects that interest me most with an eye toward providing new perspectives on events during this era.
I suppose I have many of the necessary credentials to be a local haole: arrived as a kid with parents who were not military, attended rural and urban public high schools, earned all my degrees from the University of Hawai‘i, married local guys, and have a part-Hawaiian daughter and a hapa (Japanese-Okinawan) son. I even managed to pass the written pidgin test in the ninth grade. Does this make me a local haole? I’ll leave this for others to decide.
My academic interest in Hawai’i history and culture took a more serious turn when I was making my way through the doctoral program in American Studies in the 1990s, but mostly was put on hold during my final working years as a faculty specialist at UH Manoa. Since my retirement in December 2012, I’ve returned to this area of study and have been reading and annotating students papers found in Hamilton Library’s Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory (RASRL) collection. Material from this collection will be featured in my blog posts here.
I hope that the work I’m doing can be of use to faculty who wish to research and teach Hawai’i history, particularly the less studied aspects of the territorial era. I hope undergraduates and graduates will find Thinking Locally blog posts tempting enough to make them want to join in researching Hawai’i, particularly archival materials. I hope that that what is published here benefits the larger community from which the RASRL materials came. I’d like to hear from visitors to our blog: firstname.lastname@example.org