Return to Kahiki: Native Hawaiians in Oceania by University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu Assistant Professor Kealani Cook has been published by Cambridge University Press, with one review calling it an important scholarly work in the growing field of Pacific and oceanic history.
Cook sought out understudied sources written in Hawaiian, such as letters, newspapers, journals and reports for his examination. His research focused on the reaction of Native Hawaiians to increased contact with and settlement by Euro/American empires between 1850 and 1907. Native Hawaiians during this period saw their population shrink as drastic changes in governance and economy occurred and as the kingdom was annexed by the United States.
With this remarkable book, Kealani Cook dramatically expands our understanding of the Native Hawaiian and oceanic past and speaks powerfully to the Pacific present.
The book examines Native Hawaiians’ attempts to call upon and develop relationships with other Pacific Island peoples, focusing on the three specific Native Hawaiian travelers or sets of travelers: native missionary efforts in Micronesia and the Marquesas, King Kalākaua’s 1887 legation to Sāmoa, and politician and businessman John Timoteo Baker’s 1907 tour of Polynesia.
The analysis results in an expanded view of Native Hawaiians—they were not one-dimensional and geographically static, but were complex and had dynamic views of the region and world.
“With this remarkable book, Kealani Cook dramatically expands our understanding of the Native Hawaiian and oceanic past and speaks powerfully to the Pacific present,” wrote reviewer David Chang, a professor in the University of Minnesota’s history department, whose own work has focused on indigenous people, colonialism, borders and migration in Hawaiʻi and North America.
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—By Greg Wiles