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Beyond EthnicityNew Politics of Race in Hawai'i$
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Camilla Fojas, Rudy P. Guevarra, and Nitasha Tamar Sharma

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780824869885

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824869885.001.0001

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“Eh! Where you from?”

“Eh! Where you from?”

Questions of Place, Race, and Identity in Contemporary Hawai‘i

Chapter:
(p.78) Chapter 4 “Eh! Where you from?”
Source:
Beyond Ethnicity
Author(s):

John P. Rosa

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824869885.003.0006

Race and ethnicity are important analytical categories in Hawai‘i, but the issue of place can at times be more important to an individual in declaring his or her social/cultural identity. Outside observers may initially assess another person visually according to race/ethnicity – but follow up questions, often in Hawai‘i Creole, frequently ask about place of origin, neighborhoods, schools attended, and other matters inherently related to place. Such questions are indirect ways to ask about how long one’s family has been in the islands and whether or not a person has a working knowledge of Hawai‘i’s Native Hawaiian and local ways of life. As a geographically isolated archipelago, Hawai‘i had limited interactions with the outside world until the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778, American missionaries in 1820, and the immigration of sugar plantation laborers since the 1850s. This essay argues that the islands’ current population consists of four broad groups that are partially defined by race/ethnicity, but also strongly determined by matters of place and historical circumstances. Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians), Haole, Locals, and Others are four groups in contemporary Hawai‘i seeking to understand their individual and collective histories and place in the islands.

Keywords:   race and place, Kanaka Maoli, Locals, collective history, identity, creole

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