I’m Aboriginal. I’m just not the Aboriginal person a lot of people want or expect me to be.
What does it mean to be Aboriginal? Why is Australia so obsessed with notions of identity? Anita Heiss, successful author and passionate campaigner for Aboriginal literacy, was born a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, but was raised in the suburbs of Sydney and educated at the local Catholic school. She is Aboriginal; however, this does not mean she likes to go barefoot and, please, don’t ask her to camp in the desert. After years of stereotyping Aboriginal Australians as either settlement dwellers or rioters in Redfern, the Australian media have discovered a new crime to charge them with: being too “fair-skinned” to be Australian Aboriginal. Such accusations led to Anita’s involvement in one of the most important and sensational Australian legal decisions of the 21st-century when she joined others in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. He was found guilty, and the repercussions continue.
Am I Black Enough for You? is a deeply personal memoir, told in her distinctive, wry style, Anita Heiss gives a first-hand account of her experiences as a woman with an Aboriginal mother and Austrian father, and explains the development of her activist consciousness.
Read her story and ask: what does it take for someone to be black enough for you?
2014 | 352 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8248-4027-3 | $24.99 | Paper
Gender and Nation in Meiji Japan is a historical analysis of the discourses of nostalgia in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Japan. Through an analysis of the experience of rapid social change in Japan’s modernization, it argues that fads (ryūkō) and the desires they express are central to understanding Japanese modernity, conceptions of gender, and discourses of nationalism. In doing so, the author uncovers the myth of eternal return that lurks below the surface of Japanese history as an expression of the desire to find meaning amid the chaos and alienation of modern times. The Meiji period (1868–1912) was one of rapid change that hastened the process of forgetting: The state’s aggressive program of modernization required the repression of history and memory. However, repression merely produced new forms of desire seeking a return to the past, with the result that competing or alternative conceptions of the nation haunted the history of modern Japan. Rooted in the belief that the nation was a natural and organic entity that predated the rational, modern state, such conceptions often were responses to modernity that envisioned the nation in opposition to the modern state. What these visions of the nation shared was the ironic desire to overcome the modern condition by seeking the timeless past. While the condition of their repression was often linked to the modernizing policies of the Meiji state, the means for imagining the nation in opposition to the state required the construction of new symbols that claimed the authority of history and appealed to a rearticulated tradition. Through the idiom of gender and nation, new reified representations of continuity, timelessness, and history were fashioned to compensate for the unmooring of inherited practices from the shared locales of everyday life.
This book examines the intellectual, social, and cultural factors that contributed to the rapid spread of Western tastes and styles, along with the backlash against Westernization that was expressed as a longing for the past. By focusing on the expressions of these desires in popular culture and media texts, it reveals how the conflation of mother, countryside, everyday life, and history structured representations to naturalize ideologies of gender and nationalism.
Written by Jason G. Karlin
2014 | 320 pages | 45 illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3826-3 | $45.00 | Cloth
With the Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival now past for another year, let’s catch up with a few more soon-to-be-happening author events.
Saturday, May 10, 2:00 pm:
Carol MacLennan will present and sign her new book, Sovereign Sugar: Industry and Environment in Hawai‘i, at Basically Books in Hilo, Hawai‘i island. Please attend if you’re in East Hawai‘i or reserve a signed copy by contacting the bookstore. If you’re not in Hilo and missed her talk at the festival, you can still listen to the Hawai‘i Public Radio interview on HPR2’s The Conversation that aired last month.
Monday, May 12, 6:00 to 7:00 pm:
San Diego resident Leilani Holmes pays a brief visit to Kaua‘i and will speak at Lihue Public Library about her search for Hawaiian identity as told in her book, Ancestry of Experience: A Journey into Hawaiian Ways of Knowing. By including hula as part of her talk, she transforms her presentation into an engaging performance. Listen to the wide-ranging interview that aired April 8 on American Indian Airwaves, KPFK Public Radio.
Tuesday, May 13, 7:00 pm:
Robert Ji-Song Ku, author of Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA, will join an intriguing panel at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles to explore the growing influence and role of Asian Americans as food trendsetters in L.A. and—perhaps—nationwide.
Making Micronesia is the story of Tosiwo Nakayama, the first president of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Born to a Japanese father and an island woman in 1931 on an atoll northwest of the main Chuuk Lagoon group, Nakayama grew up during Japan’s colonial administration of greater Micronesia and later proved adept at adjusting to life in post-war Chuuk and under the American-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. After studying at the University of Hawai‘i, Nakayama returned to Chuuk in 1958 and quickly advanced through a series of administrative positions before winning election to the House of Delegates (later Senate) of the Congress of Micronesia. He served as its president from 1965 to1967 and again from 1973 to 1978.
More than any other individual, Nakayama is credited with managing the complex political discussions on Saipan in 1975 that resulted in a national constitution for the different Micronesian states that made up the Trust Territory. A proponent of independence, he was a key player in the lengthy negotiations with the U.S. government and throughout the islands that culminated in the Compact of Free Association and the eventual creation of the FSM. In 1979 Nakayama was elected the first president of the FSM and spent the next eight years working to solidify an island nation and to see the Compact of Free Association through to approval and implementation.
One wonders what the contemporary political configuration of the western Pacific would look like without Tosiwo Nakayama. His story, however, involves much more than a narrative of political events. Nakayama’s rise to prominence constitutes a remarkable story given the physical, political, and cultural distances he negotiated. His engagements with colonialism, decolonization, and nation-making place him squarely in the middle of the most important issues in twentieth-century Pacific Islands history. The study of his life also invites a reconsideration of migration, transnational crossings, and the actual size of island worlds. Making Micronesia follows Nakayama’s life through time, focusing on the expansiveness of his vision. In many ways, “Macronesia,” not “Micronesia,” seems a more appropriate term for the world he inhabited and tried to make accessible to others.
Written by David Hanlon
2014 | 344 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3846-1 | $55.00 | Cloth
In early Hawai‘i, kua‘āina were the hinterlands inhabited by nā kua‘āina, or country folk. Often these were dry, less desirable areas where much skill and hard work were required to wrest a living from the lava landscapes. The ancient district of Kahikinui in southeast Maui is such a kua‘āina and remains one of the largest tracts of undeveloped land in the islands. Named after Tahiti Nui in the Polynesian homeland, its thousands of pristine acres house a treasure trove of archaeological ruins—witnesses to the generations of Hawaiians who made this land their home before it was abandoned in the late nineteenth century.
Kua‘āina Kahiko follows kama‘āina archaeologist Patrick Vinton Kirch on a seventeen-year-long research odyssey to rediscover the ancient patterns of life and land in Kahikinui. Through painstaking archaeological survey and detailed excavations, Kirch and his students uncovered thousands of previously undocumented ruins of houses, trails, agricultural fields, shrines, and temples. Kirch describes how, beginning in the early fifteenth century, Native Hawaiians began to permanently inhabit the rocky lands along the vast southern slope of Haleakalā. Eventually these planters transformed Kahikinui into what has been called the greatest continuous zone of dryland planting in the Hawaiian Islands. He relates other fascinating aspects of life in ancient Kahikinui, such as the capture and use of winter rains to create small wet-farming zones, and decodes the complex system of heiau, showing how the orientations of different temple sites provide clues to the gods to whom they were dedicated.
Kirch examines the sweeping changes that transformed Kahikinui after European contact, including how some maka’āinana families fell victim to unscrupulous land agents. But also woven throughout the book is the saga of Ka ‘Ohana o Kahikinui, a grass-roots group of Native Hawaiians who successfully struggled to regain access to these Hawaiian lands. Rich with ancedotes of Kirch’s personal experiences over years of field research, Kua’āina Kahiko takes the reader into the little-known world of the ancient kua‘āina.
Written by Patrick Vinton Kirch
2014 | 336 pages | 80 illustrations, 5 maps
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3955-0 | $49.00 | Cloth
Throughout the twentieth century, American filmmakers have embraced cinematic representations of China. Beginning with D.W. Griffith’s silent classic Broken Blossoms (1919) and ending with the computer-animated Kung Fu Panda (2008), author Naomi Greene explores China’s changing role in the American imagination. Taking viewers into zones that frequently resist logical expression or more orthodox historical investigation, the films suggest the welter of intense and conflicting impulses that have surrounded China. They make clear that China has often served as the very embodiment of “otherness”—a kind of yardstick or cloudy mirror of America itself. It is a mirror that reflects not only how Americans see the racial “other” but also a larger landscape of racial, sexual, and political perceptions that touch on the ways in which the nation envisions itself and its role in the world.
In the United States, the exceptional emotional charge that imbues images of China has tended to swing violently from positive to negative and back again: China has been loved and—as is generally the case today—feared. Using film to trace these dramatic fluctuations, From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu Panda relates them to the larger arc of historical and political change. Suggesting that filmic images both reflect and fuel broader social and cultural impulses, the author argues that they reveal a constant tension or dialectic between the “self” and the “other.” Significantly, with the important exception of films made by Chinese or Chinese American directors, the Chinese other is almost invariably portrayed in terms of the American self. Placed in a broader context, this ethnocentrism is related both to an ever-present sense of American exceptionalism and to a Manichean world view that perceives other countries as friends or enemies.
Greene analyzes a series of influential films, including classics like Shanghai Express (1932), The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), The Good Earth (1936), and Shanghai Gesture (1941); important cold war films such as The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and The Sand Pebbles (1966); and a range of contemporary films, including Chan is Missing (1982), The Wedding Banquet (1993), Kundun (1997), Mulan (1998), and Shanghai Noon (2000). The author’s consideration makes clear that while many stereotypes and racist images of the past have been largely banished from the screen, the political, cultural, and social impulses they embodied are still alive and well.
Written by Naomi Greene
2014 | 280 pages | 31 illustrations
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8248-3836-2 | $25.00
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8248-3835-5 | $65.00
Critical Interventions Series