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“The People of Kalaupapa as Active Participants in Their Own History”

September 27, 12:00pm - 1:15pm
Manoa Campus, Henke 325 Add to Calendar

The history of Kalaupapa has traditionally been told almost exclusively through the use of English-language sources, even though hundreds of letters and petitions written in Hawaiian by the early residents of Kalaupapa and their family members have been preserved. Consequently, the perspective of the estimated 8,000 individuals who personally experienced forced separation from their families and places of birth has been largely omitted from Kalaupapa’s history. Similarly, the experiences of family members left behind who lost their loved ones as a result of the isolation policies has also been omitted from traditional histories of Kalaupapa. As a result, the history has been largely told from the Western perspective of shame rather than from the Hawaiian perspective of great love.

Anwei Skinsnes Law will discuss new ways of interpreting Kalaupapa’s history through the use of letters and petitions translated from Hawaiian that date back to the first twelve people with leprosy sent to Kalaupapa in 1866 as well as oral history interviews conducted with Kalaupapa residents over the last 40 years. The presentation will also discuss the important role played by family members who went along as kōkua, as well as the support given by the kamaʻāina, many of whom chose to remain at Kalaupapa until they were forced to leave in 1894.

Speaker Bio:

Anwei Skinsnes Law first visited Kalaupapa in 1968 at the age of 16. Over the last 44 years, she has extensively researched the history of leprosy in Hawai‘i and conducted over 200 hours of oral history interviews with the residents of Kalaupapa, family members, and other individuals who have worked there. In 1982, she received a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Hawai‘i School of Public Health. In 1989, she published Kalaupapa: A Portrait with photographer Wayne Levin and in 2009 published Father Damien: A Bit of Taro, A Piece of Fish, And a Glass of Water. She is also the author of The Great Flood: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1889.

Ms. Law coordinated the Oral History Project of the ILA Global Project on the History of Leprosy in which interviews were conducted with people from 35 countries speaking in more than 20 languages. She is currently the International Coordinator of IDEA, the largest international human rights organization by and for individuals who have personally faced the challenges of leprosy.

She is the author of Kalaupapa: A Collective Memory and co-author of Ili Nā Ho‘omana‘o o Kalaupapa: Casting Remembrances of Kalaupapa (with Valerie Monson, featuring photographs by Wayne Levin), both being released in August/September 2012.

Event Sponsor
Center for Biographical Research, Manoa Campus

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