Savage Taxation: American Political Thought, Hawaiian Capitalism, and Kanaka Maoli Anti-Capitalism in the 19th Century

Dec 4, 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Kelly Hall, Room 108, 5848 S University Ave, Chicago, IL 60637

Uahikea Maile, University of Toronto

How did the Hawaiian Kingdom’s government adopt capitalism as an official political economy in the 19th century? This talk contends that American political thought shaped the gradual institutionalization of capitalism in Hawai‘i. Translating Francis Wayland’s Elements of Political Economy (1837), William Richards, an American missionary turned advisor, wrote and published No Ke Kalaiaina (1839) to teach founders of the Hawaiian Kingdom at their request about government, politics, and capital. The talk shows how American theories of so-called savage taxation drove a modern transformation in Hawaiian governance, political economy, and socio-ecological relations. Yet, Native Hawaiians creatively diagnosed and challenged how capital greased the wheels of colonialism throughout the 19th century. The talk concludes by arguing that the Indigenous political idea and practice of aloha ‘āina was, and should be considered, both anti-capitalist and anti-colonial.

Uahikea Maile is a Kanaka Maoli scholar, activist, and practitioner from Maunawili, Oʻahu. He is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Politics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, St. George. He’s also the founding Director of Ziibiing Lab, and an Affiliate Faculty in the Centre for Indigenous Studies and Centre for the Study of the United States. Maile’s research interests include: history, law, and activism on Hawaiian sovereignty; Indigenous critical theory; settler colonialism; political economy; feminist and queer theories; and decolonization. Their work appears in American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Hūlili: Multidisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-Being, Journal of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, Cultural Studies <-> Critical Methodologies, as well as Biopolitics, Geopolitics, Life: Settler States and Indigenous Presences (Duke University Press, 2023), Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawaiʻi (Duke University Press, 2019, and Standing With Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement (Minnesota University Press, 2019). His book manuscript, Nā Makana Ea: Settler Colonial Capitalism and the Gifts of Sovereignty in Hawaiʻi, examines the historical development and contemporary formation of settler colonial capitalism in Hawaiʻi and gifts of sovereignty that seek to overturn it by issuing responsibilities for balancing relationships with ʻāina, the land and that who feeds.

If you have any questions about access or to request any reasonable accommodations that will facilitate your full participation in this event such as ASL interpreting, captioned videos, Braille or electronic text, food options for individuals with dietary restrictions, etc. please contact racediasporaindigeneity@uchicago.edu