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KAHOʻOLAWE IS NOT AN ISLAND: POLITICAL-ECOLOGICAL ASSEMBLAGES, SPACES OF INDIGENOUS (RE)EMERGENCE, AND THE LOGIC OF COUNTERINSURGENCY

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Title:KAHOʻOLAWE IS NOT AN ISLAND: POLITICAL-ECOLOGICAL ASSEMBLAGES, SPACES OF INDIGENOUS (RE)EMERGENCE, AND THE LOGIC OF COUNTERINSURGENCY
Authors:Kajihiro, Kyle
Contributors:Jones, Reece (advisor)
Geography (department)
Keywords:Geography
Political science
governmentality
indigenous politics
militarization
show 2 morepolitical ecology
social movements
show less
Date Issued:2020
Publisher:University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Abstract:Abstract
In 1941, shortly after Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Territorial Governor declared martial law in Hawaiʻi, and the U.S. military seized the island of Kahoʻolawe in the Hawaiian archipelago as a training area. In 1953, President Eisenhower issued an executive order extending military use of Kahoʻolawe indefinitely. Kahoʻolawe became an exceptional space which was used to prepare for every war from World War II to the Persian Gulf War. The ecological devastation caused by feral goats and military munitions transformed Kahoʻolawe from an island once regarded as sacred into a dusty and forlorn wasteland. In 1976, a small group of Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) activists landed on Kahoʻolawe to protest against military training activities. Their transgressive act became a spark for the emergence of the contemporary Kanaka ʻŌiwi cultural and political renaissance.
"Kahoʻolawe Is Not An Island: Political-Ecological Assemblages, Spaces of Indigenous (Re)Emergence, and the Logic of Counterinsurgency" critically examines (1) how the struggle by Kanaka ʻŌiwi activists to stop U.S. military training activities on Kahoʻolawe became a vibrant and effective social movement for indigenous land, cultural revival, and sovereignty at a particular historical conjuncture, and (2) how that social movement transformed the political, economic, environmental, and cultural milieu in Hawaiʻi.
This dissertation argues that the emergence of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (PKO)—the Kanaka ʻŌiwi social movement responsible for ending military use of Kahoʻolawe—was a historically significant event which profoundly transformed the cultural and political landscape of Hawaiʻi and recast the military's power in relation to the administration of environmental and indigenous cultural resources. Staging a conversation between the theoretical framework of assemblages—open and dynamic arrangements of heterogenous and autonomous components which form provisional wholes with emergent agential capacities—and kīpuka aloha ʻāina—spaces of Kanaka ʻŌiwi political and cultural (re)emergence—this study finds that the confluence of multiple factors at a particular place and historical moment produced conditions of possibility for the transgressive actions of the PKO to catalyze a new Kanaka ʻŌiwi movement.
Further, this dissertation traces the influence of the Kahoʻolawe aloha ʻāina movement to other sites where there is ongoing contention over military land use. Whereas environmental and cultural claims raised by Kahoʻolawe activists were initially disruptive of military logics and practices, today the production of environmental and cultural impact studies, the engineering of mitigation measures, and even the management of public opinion and dissent have been subsumed within routine functions of government and neoliberal capitalist relations. This shift has been accompanied by the emergence of new political economies and knowledge regimes to govern nature and natives alike. This study finds that such moves by the state to capture and neutralize the political efficacy of Kanaka ʻŌiwi contention inhere to a logic of counterinsurgency, which seeks pacification of resistance as its primary aim. Still, many Kānaka ʻŌiwi have continued to evade regulatory capture, and through shape-shifting practices of indigenous (re)emergence, have asserted creative expressions of aloha ʻāina (love of land, people, and country) and ea (life, sovereignty, breath, rising).
The dissertation is divided into four parts, each consisting of three chapters. Part 1 "Kanaloa Emerges" charts the emergence of the PKO through the framework of assemblages and kīpuka aloha ʻāīna, the key theoretical interventions made by this study. Chapter 1 "Mapping Territorial Assemblages of Kahoʻolawe" describes the conjuncture of political and economic factors that created conditions of possibility for the emergence of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana in post-statehood Hawaiʻi. Chapter 2 "From Kīpuka of Resistance to Kīpuka Aloha ʻĀina" stages a conversation between assemblage theorists and Kanaka ʻŌiwi theoretical concepts of kīpuka aloha ʻāina and emergence to map key changes in the social assemblage in Hawaiʻi which were particularly generative for the formation of the Kahoʻolawe movement. Applying theories of events and emergence, Chapter 3 "(Re)Emergence of Aloha ʻĀina" finds that the contingent series of events which gave rise to the PKO were inflection points within a larger historically transformative event that reconfigured the assemblage of cultural and environmental politics in Hawaiʻi.
Part 2 "The Lost World" explores different ways that senses of loss and of being lost have been mobilized by different actors as a political and cultural resource to stake claims to Kahoʻolawe. Chapter 4 "A Lost Geography of U.S. Empire" argues that Kahoʻolawe may be considered a "lost geography" within processes of U.S. imperial formation, where the indigenous geography of the Island was effaced as it became a site for the production of U.S. military power. Chapter 5 "The Geopolitics of Desolation" examines how the material and discursive desolation of Kahoʻolawe was commensurate with the production of the Island as a space of exception during a state of wartime emergency which became permanent. The chapter argues that Kahoʻolawe's desolation was geopolitically productive for the United States as a rising imperial power. It goes on to claim that Kahoʻolawe became terra sacer, a sacred-accursed island whose bannishment from the juridical order was constitutive of U.S. military sovereignty. Chapter 6 "The Power of Loss" pivots to examine loss as a resource for activist mobilization. It argues that the PKO effectively mobilized loss as an affective resource to intensify commitments to their movement. It examines the tragic disappearance of two PKO leaders as an example of the power of loss.
Part 3 "An Intensive Frontier" traces the history of different modalities of knowledge production and power in the environmental administration of Kahoʻolawe. It considers how different political actors enacted ontologically different versions of Kahoʻolawe to stake claims to the Island. At the same time the chapters in this section note that Kahoʻolawe was also an unruly object which eluded various conservation schemes. Chapter 7 "Kill the Goats, Save the Island" looks at a history of environmental change and the evolution of conservation practices on Kahoʻolawe, from the extractive and eugenics-driven conservation of the Progressive Era to the technologically sophisticated biopolitical/necropolitical techniques of ecological governmentality employed by conservationists in recent years. Goats play a starring role as the environmental antagonist in this chapter. Chapter 8 "Intensive Care: Scientific Frontier at the Edge of Extinction" continues to examine the history of conservation on Kahoʻolawe, shifting to the period of intense scientific interest following the end of bombing, when the Island came to be regarded as a conservation frontier and a laboratory of ecological restoration. The saga of Ka Palupalu o Kanaloa (Kanaloa kahoolawensis), a critically endangered plant species that was newly discovered on Kahoʻolawe is a central figure of this chapter. Chapter 9 "Staking Claims on an Insular Frontier" shifts to examine how during the conveyance, cleanup, and restoration period, Kahoʻolawe became an intensive frontier of political and economic desire. This chapter argues that frontier-making in the spatially and juridically bounded space of Kahoʻolawe relied more on a process of intensification rather than the spatial extension typically associated with frontier-making projects. Further, it argues that the Island underwent insularization—the process of making something island-like, separate, isolated, and exceptional through the intensification of affects and the implementation of legal and administrative enclosures.
Part 4 "A Moving Target" continues to analyze the ontological politics of Kahoʻolawe focusing on the contested politics of anthropological and indigenous knowledge production, natural and cultural resource management, and settler colonial tactics to pacify indigenous resistance. Chapter 10 "Kahoʻolawe and the Ontological Politics of Place" argues that the PKO engaged in a struggle over the cultural meaning of Kahoʻolawe by intervening creatively in the process of archaeological and anthropological knowledge production and by (re)creating and enacting Kanaka ʻŌiwi ceremonies on the Island. This chapter argues that Kanaka ʻŌiwi engaged in an ontological politics of place to stake indigenous claims to Kahoʻolawe. This chapter also argues that the growth of a new political economy of archaeological and anthropological knowledge production following the PKO's initial successful challenge to the Navy has had a mollifying effect on the disruptive potential of ʻŌiwi cultural claims elsewhere. Chapter 11 "Environmentalism as Counterinsurgency" argues that the military's recent embrace of environmental responsibilities inhered to a logic of counterinsurgency, where the administration of military environmental and cultural resources management programs sought to securitize military land use and pacify environmental and indigenous opposition. This chapter sketches the history of U.S. settler colonial tactics to suppress indigenous and working class protest in Hawaiʻi, and marks the military's recent shift to more governmentalized approaches. Chapter 12 "Making Nature and Natives Live" argues that the logic of counterinsurgency has been applied by the military to pacify contention at other military-occupied lands. It examines three cases: the Army's implementation of cutting-edge environmental programs in Hawaiʻi as a way to sustain destructive activities elsewhere; the Marine Corps' employment of human terrain anthropological operatives to counter Kanaka ʻŌiwi resistance at Mākua; and the Army's employment of Kanaka ʻŌiwi consultants to organize "friendly" natives in support of its Stryker Brigade expansion and other initiatives. However, this study also concludes that despite the carceral tactics of the military to suppress or co-opt indigenous opposition, Kānaka ʻŌiwi, and the irrepressible spirit of aloha ʻāina animating their activism, continue to evade capture and pacification, to (re)emerge anew at other sites of contention.
How and why people resist at certain moments, under what conditions they are able to succeed, how movements gestate, emerge, and spread, and what reactions and changes they provoke are perennial concerns for social scientists. They have important implications for civic engagement as well as policy making. This dissertation contributes to understanding these questions through the case study of an important indigenous social movement in Hawaiʻi. These contributions will be of interest to scholars of militarization, decolonization, settler-colonialism, political ecology, counterinsurgency, social movements, and indigenous politics, as well as indigenous and environmental activists and cultural practitioners.
Pages/Duration:584 pages
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/68917
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Geography


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