Hawai′i Is My Haven

Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific

Hawai′i Is My Haven

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 17 illustrations Published: September 2021

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, American Studies, Native and Indigenous Studies

Hawai‘i Is My Haven maps the context and contours of Black life in the Hawaiian Islands. This ethnography emerges from a decade of fieldwork with both Hawai‘i-raised Black locals and Black transplants who moved to the Islands from North America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Nitasha Tamar Sharma highlights the paradox of Hawai‘i as a multiracial paradise and site of unacknowledged anti-Black racism. While Black culture is ubiquitous here, African-descended people seem invisible. In this formerly sovereign nation structured neither by the US Black/White binary nor the one drop rule, nonWhite multiracials, including Black Hawaiians and Black Koreans, illustrate the coarticulation and limits of race and the native/settler divide. Despite erasure and racism, nonmilitary Black residents consider Hawai‘i their haven, describing it as a place to “breathe” that offers the possibility of becoming local. Sharma's analysis of race, indigeneity, and Asian settler colonialism shifts North American debates in Black and Native studies to the Black Pacific. Hawai‘i Is My Haven illustrates what the Pacific offers members of the African diaspora and how they in turn illuminate race and racism in “paradise.”


“Highlighting the place of Hawai‘i as a site for analyzing the most pressing cultural, political, and economic currents facing our world, Nitasha Tamar Sharma provides a unique and nuanced view into the complex flows of Islander life while creating new spaces for Black and multiracial voices that are all too frequently silenced. This much-needed work makes an important contribution to theorizing race and indigeneity together in American studies, ethnic studies, African American studies, and Native and Indigenous studies.” — Ty P. Kawika Tengan, author of Native Men Remade: Gender and Nation in Contemporary Hawai‘i

“This is an elegantly written, trenchantly argued, and persuasively rendered ethnography of African Americans in Hawai‘i. It is simultaneously a landmark pointing the way to how the United States itself may evolve as it comes to resemble racially and ethnically the vibrant fiftieth state in the twenty-first century.” — Gerald Horne, author of The White Pacific: U.S. Imperialism and Black Slavery in the South Seas After the Civil War


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Nitasha Tamar Sharma is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University, author of Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness, also published by Duke University Press, and coeditor of Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawai‘i.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1437-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1346-4