Lave Kuleana (Taking Responsibility): Peoples of Hawai‘i at the Time of Crises

Endorsed by the OAH-Japanese Association for American Studies Japan Historians' Collaborative Committee and AHS

Saturday, April 1, 2023, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Type: Paper Session

Tags: Immigration and Internal Migration; Nationalism and Transnationalism


Hawai‘i, located at the crossroads of the Pacific, was a vital hub for the globalizing capitalist-industrial system that accompanied multiple attempts for settler colonialism and imperialism and ultimately fell under the U.S. rule to headquarter its Indo-Pacific military command. In the process, the islands had embraced a large plantation and fisheries workforce with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, who supported the development of both Hawai‘i with labor and their homelands through remittance. By World War I, those foreign-born and their descendants outnumbered Native Hawaiians, and Hawai‘i stood as a multi-racial, multi-lingual, and multi-national territory of the United States. How did peoples in Hawai‘i respond to increasingly volatile inter-racial, inter-class, and international relationships they faced in the early- and mid-twentieth century? In the face of national and international crises, the U.S. public suspected multi-racial Hawaiʻi’s loyalty to the United States and ability to sustain the territoriality. How did racial/ethnic pride and traditions of the peoples of Hawai‘i intersect with the pressure for territorial contributions to the United States and their transnational aspiration to build the harmonious islands’ community and the world? This panel examines how peoples of diverse backgrounds in Hawai’i grappled with their nationalism and transnationalism in the face of crises from local, national, and transnational perspectives. Donna Binkiewicz examines a rural farming community of Maui during World War I. She asks how and why men and women of the multi-ethnic rural communities, many of whom had no U.S. citizenship, became enthusiastic supporters of U.S. war efforts. Rumi Yasutake looks into urban Honolulu elite women’s activism at the time of crises in the early twentieth century. She examines how women’s public work in the face of local, national, and international crises affectd race and gender relations in the islands and Hawai‘i’s position nationally and internationally. Manako Ogawa examines the transnational being of Nisei Okinawans from Hawai‘i. By illuminating the trans-Pacific flow of people between Okinawa and Hawaiʻi, she will reveal how the Nisei Okinawans from Hawaiʻi have been deeply involved in commemorating the tragedy of Himeyuri students and teachers who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Chair/Commentator Judy Tzu-Chung Wu will synthesize three papers to discuss the effects of past crises and peoples’ responses on their societies then and our world today.

Papers Presented

Portuguese War Bread, Victory Boys, and Farmerettes: Maui Families Respond to the Great War

This paper will examine the crisis period of World War One and its effect on residents of Maui, in what was then the Territory of Hawaii. The main question addressed is: How did rural communities comprised of various immigrant groups recruited as laborers for sugar and pineapple plantations respond to the demands of the war when the United States joined the fight? The author will argue that despite its remote location and its population of immigrant laborers, many of whom were not citizens, Maui residents enthusiastically supported the American war effort. While men enlisted in the armed forces, families on the home front took up the calls by the American government for increased food conservation and production. The paper will explore how women in rural kitchens experimented with new recipes to swap out staples such as wheat flour, children competed in victory garden contests, and teenagers replaced their absent fathers in the agricultural labor force. War work, ultimately, bound the territorial population more firmly to the United States and to the twin hopes of citizenship and statehood.

Presented By
Donna Marie Binkiewicz, California State University, Long Beach

“Women’s Work” at the Time of Crises: Facilitating and/or Resisting U.S. Colonialism

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Hawai‘i was divided by race, ethnicity, and class. Native Hawaiian leaders resisted white plantater oligarchs facilitating U.S. seizure of their land. Growing sugar industry employed immigrant laborers, who lived in camp communities segregated by ethnicity, marginalizing Native Hawaiians on their native land. In the face of national and international crises that pressed national and territorial conformity, American missionary descendant women tapped the trans-racial/ethnic and transnational women’s networks woven by their ancestors’ women’s separate sphere strategy. By mobilizing elite women of Native Hawaiian as well as white and nonwhite settler women, Honolulu women led “women’s work” for their community, nation, and homelands. How did the women’s collaborative public work during the crises affect race and gender relations in the islands and the Hawai‘i’s position nationally and internationally? The paper examines multiple intentions and implications of women’s contributions at the time of crises.

Presented By
Rumi Yasutake, Konan University

“Himeyuri and Hawai‘i: the Interactions of Nisei Okinawans from Hawaiʻi and Local Okinawans”

Okinawa has developed a strong relationship with Hawaiʻi since Okinawans started going to Hawaiʻi in 1900. However, little has been known about how the Nisei Okinawans from Hawaiʻi have been deeply involved in commemorating the tragedy of Himeyuri students and teachers. Himeyuri is a collective name for the Okinawa Female Normal School and the Okinawa First Girls’ High School. During the battle of Okinawa in 1945, more than half of Himeyuri students and teachers lost their lives. Among the victims was Chiyoko Oyadomari, a Himeyuri teacher who had been born and raised in Hawaiʻi. After the war, a Nisei Okinawan from Hawaiʻi contributed to preserve the Himeyuri Cenotaph standing near the site of the cave in which many Himeyuri students and teachers, including Oyadomari, lost their lives. Harry Shinichi Gima, a Nisei Okinawan from Hawaiʻi working for the US occupational forces in Okinawa, played a key role in raising funds to purchase the area around the cave and the Himeyuri Cenotaph. This presentation will examine these episodes in the broader context of the Okinawa-Hawaiʻi relationship. Detailed analysis will be presented of the trans-Pacific flow of people between Okinawa and Hawaiʻi, the US military occupation of Okinawa, and the collaboration of Nisei and local Okinawans, including alumnae groups of Himeyuri schools. Thus, this presentation will show the dynamic as well as sensitive aspects of the interactions between Okinawa and Hawaiʻi.

Presented By
Manako Ogawa, Ritsumeikan University

Session Participants

Chair and Commentator: Judy T. Wu, University of California, Irvine
Judy Tzu-Chun Wu is a professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine and the director of the Humanities Center. She received her Ph.D. in U.S. History from Stanford University and previously taught at Ohio State University. She authored Dr. Mom Chung of the Fair-Haired Bastards: the Life of a Wartime Celebrity (University of California Press, 2005) and Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era (Cornell University Press, 2013). Her forthcoming book, Fierce and Fearless: Patsy Takemoto Mink, First Woman of Color in Congress (New York University Press, 2022), is a collaboration with political scientist Gwendolyn Mink. Wu is currently working on a book that focuses on Asian American and Pacific Islander Women who attended the 1977 National Women’s Conference and co-editing Unequal Sisters, 5th edition with Routledge Press. She co-edited Women’s America: Refocusing the Past, 8th Edition (Oxford 2015), Gendering the Trans-Pacific World (Brill 2017), and Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies (2012-2017). Currently, she is a co-editor of Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (Alexander Street Press) and editor for Amerasia Journal. She also serves as chair of the editorial committee for the University of California Press and as a series editor for the U.S. in the World Series with Cornell University Press. She is the co-president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians.

Presenter: Donna Marie Binkiewicz, California State University, Long Beach
Donna M. Binkiewicz is a Lecturer in the History Department at California State University, Long Beach. She teaches United States history, US in the World, and Immigration history. Her publications include the books, Between the Sea and Sky: The Sage of My Portuguese American Family in Upcountry Maui, 1881-1941 (2021) and Federalizing the Muse: United States Arts Policy and the National Endowment for the Arts, 1965-1980 (2004).

Presenter: Manako Ogawa, Ritsumeikan University
Manako Ogawa is a professor of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. She obtained Ph.D. from the University of Hawai‘i with her dissertation, “American Women’s Destiny, Asian Women’s Dignity: Trans-Pacific Activism of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, 1886-1945.” While publishing articles on topics related to women’s international peace and reform movements in the Journal of World History, Diplomatic History, and various other academic journals in both English and Japanese, she has paid her academic concerns to the sea and fishing communities, and published books and articles, including Sea of Opportunity: The Japanese Pioneers of the Fishing Industry in Hawai‘i (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2015), and Umi no Tami no Hawai: Hawai no Suisangyo wo Kaitaku shita Nihonjin no Shakaishi (Jimbun Shoin, 2017).

Presenter: Rumi Yasutake, Konan University
Rumi Yasutake will be a Professor of Emerita/Research Fellow in the Faculty of Letters at Konan University, Kobe, Japan after April, 2022. She will continue teach courses on US History and American studies. Her publications include, Transnational Women’s Activism: The United States, Japan, and Japanese Immigrant Communities in California, 1859-1920 (New York University Press, 2004). Currently, she is completing a book project tentatively titled Shaping Pan-Pacific Feminist Identity: Missionaries, Suffragists, Maternalists, and Labor Reformers in Hawai‘i.