Dr. David Chang, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota
Bio: David Chang is an historian of indigenous people, colonialism, borders and migration in Hawaii and North America, focusing especially on the histories of Native American and Native Hawaiian people. His book The World and All the Things Upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) speaks to a foundational imperative in Indigenous studies: the need to not just understand Indigenous people from their own perspectives, but to understand the world from their perspectives as well.
Abstract: In the maritime economy of the nineteenth century, Native Hawaiian laborers fanned out across the oceans. Some never returned home, instead settling in spots from Vancouver Island to California to New England to Tahiti. Given that race was (and remains) a structuring difference in settler colonial states and capitalist economies, what were these migrants’ experiences of race? How were they categorized by outsiders? What racialized affiliations did they make? This talk will explore the racial trajectories of these Kānaka in multiple sites. In some sites, they entered into what we would now recognize as Indigenous communities. In others, they merged into African-descent populations. In still others, they entered into the privileged status of whiteness. These differing outcomes provide glimpses into the intersections of racial, class, and national identifications. They also shed light on the early roots of what we might today call a global indigenous identity.