Emalani Case, "Everything Ancient Was Once New: Indigenous Persistence from Hawaiʻi to Kahiki" (U Hawaii Press, 2021)


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In Everything Ancient Was Once New: Indigenous Persistence from Hawaiʻi to Kahiki (U Hawaii Press, 2021), Emalani Case explores Indigenous persistence through the concept of Kahiki, a term that is at once both an ancestral homeland for Kānaka Maoli (Hawaiians) and the knowledge that there is life to be found beyond Hawaiʻi’s shores. It is therefore both a symbol of ancestral connection and the potential that comes with remembering and acting upon that connection. Tracing physical, historical, intellectual, and spiritual journeys to and from Kahiki, Emalani frames it as a place of refuge and sanctuary, a place where ancient knowledge can constantly be made anew. It is in Kahiki, she argues, and in the sanctuary it creates, that today’s Kānaka Maoli can find safety and reprieve from the continued onslaught of settler colonial violence, while also confronting some of the often uncomfortable and challenging realities of being Indigenous in Hawaiʻi, in the Pacific, and in the world.

In writing that is both personal and theoretical, Emalani weaves the past and the present together, reflecting on ancient concepts and their continued relevance in movements to protect lands, waters, and oceans; to fight for social justice; to reexamine our responsibilities and obligations to each other across the Pacific region; and to open space for continued dialogue on what it means to be Indigenous both when at home and when away. Combining personal narrative and reflection with research and critical analysis, Everything Ancient Was Once New journeys to and from Kahiki, the sanctuary for reflection, deep learning, and continued dreaming with the past, in the present, and far into the future.

Emalani Case is a Kanaka Maoli Lecturer in Pacific Studies at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand

Holger Droessler is an Assistant Professor of History at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His research focuses on the intersection of empire and labor in the Pacific.

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