Waves of Knowing

A Seascape Epistemology

Book Pages: 216 Illustrations: 12 illustrations Published: November 2016

Geography, Native and Indigenous Studies, Politics > Political Theory

In Waves of Knowing Karin Amimoto Ingersoll marks a critical turn away from land-based geographies to center the ocean as place. Developing the concept of seascape epistemology, she articulates an indigenous Hawaiian way of knowing founded on a sensorial, intellectual, and embodied literacy of the ocean. As the source from which Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) draw their essence and identity, the sea is foundational to Kanaka epistemology and ontology. Analyzing oral histories, chants, artwork, poetry, and her experience as a surfer, Ingersoll shows how this connection to the sea has been crucial to resisting two centuries of colonialism, militarism, and tourism. In today's neocolonial context—where continued occupation and surf tourism marginalize indigenous Hawaiians—seascape epistemology as expressed by traditional cultural practices such as surfing, fishing, and navigating provides the tools for generating an alternative indigenous politics and ethics. In relocating Hawaiian identity back to the waves, currents, winds, and clouds, Ingersoll presents a theoretical alternative to land-centric viewpoints that still dominate studies of place-making and indigenous epistemology.


"Conveying the beauty and meaning of hee nalu to Hawaiians past and present, with water photos by her husband, Russell J. Amimoto, Waves of Knowing is an impassioned and informative call to surfers to be responsible to ourselves, our community and our shared, beloved sea." — Mindy Pennybacker, Honolulu Star-Advertiser

"Despite the limitations of writing in the English language, Waves of Knowing is an elegant way of articulating an indigenous Hawaiian epistemology.... This book is a valuable contribution to the literature on indigenous methodology, and will also contribute to the growing literature in critical surf studies." — Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Fourth World Journal

"Waves of Knowing is an intimate discussion of both external and internal realities found both in the politics of Hawai?i and within the author’s perception. Ingersoll eschews a colonial-variety, empirical world (knowledge without the nuance of dreams or intuition) and instead explores a dynamic, place-based, historic memory empowerment which becomes its own living archive. . . . Ingersoll works to re-code this fluid sensibility back into our thinking so feeling and emotion can respectfully re-enter our cognitive reality." — Manulani Aluli Meyer, Indigenous Knowledge

“This beautifully written book makes a valuable contribution to articulating indigenous epistemologies, and offers concrete suggestions for how Kanaka Maoli ways of knowing can be translated into practices which empower indigenous and local knowledge and skills, affirm cultural identity, and care for both the land and seascapes.” — Tui Nicola Clery, Pacific Affairs

“A welcome intervention to ongoing discussions of remapping critical discourse. . . . Intentionally interdisciplinary, the possible applications of this book are manifold. While no doubt a vital contribution to indigenous studies, Waves of Knowing is also of interest to literary scholars within ecocriticism, island studies, and the blue humanities.” — Sally Anderson Boström, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment

"Waves of Knowing is an important contribution. . . . It helps us understand what has been lost but which is being recovered; it gives us insight into surfing and how new hybrid forms exist in the present but respect the past; and, most importantly, it helps give understanding of, and momentum to, ways of knowing our environment that provide critical alternatives to dominant epistemologies and the unsustainable and capricious economies they inform." — John Overton, Asia Pacific Viewpoint

"As a methodological exploration into the ways in which personal history, cultural connectivity, imperial history, and commercialization of recreation can be woven through a story of encounters with (and in) a specific space, Waves of Knowing is a fascinating book." — Philip Steinberg, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

"Although emphasized for practice-based or place-based education, the fields of philosophy, English, and history may also benefit from Ingersoll’s work, which is a brilliant example of an Indigenous way of knowing that is shaped from the epistemological complexity of the movement of the ocean through which insight into an ontologically formed Hawaiian identity is also provided." — Amy Farrell-Morneau, Native American and Indigenous Studies

“The book offers a conceptual tool for decolonising and creating a new (political and ethical) foundation of know­ing that is relevant beyond these disciplines. A well grounded, expansive and ethnographic account of the sea, it is written in a poetic way that reflects a still widely unrecognised genre of Pacific Islander scholars—for example, Vilsoni Hereniko—who bring together poetic and scholarly writing.” — Mascha Gugganig, Anthropologica

"A risk-taking and vividly written work, Waves of Knowing helps destabilize reigning land-centered frameworks of contemporary place-making and, all the more so, puts the Hawaiian oceanic sensibility back where it culturally and politically belongs. With flair, range, and commitment, Karin Amimoto Ingersoll shows ocean and land to be one interactive Hawaiian continuum of embodied place-making. Waves of Knowing offers an important, timely, and conjunctive intervention into Hawaiian studies, oceanic studies, and decolonizing indigenous scholarship." — Rob Wilson, author of Reimagining the American Pacific: From South Pacific to Bamboo Ridge and Beyond

"Karin Amimoto Ingersoll presents her readers with a manifesto calling for a relocation of self through the sea as an affective and embodied tradition for a resurgence of indigenous Hawaiian epistemologies. By focusing on the seascape as an epistemological and ontological site that reconfigures bodies in relation to land, community, and relations, Ingersoll powerfully articulates a mode of being that counters the devastating effects of colonialism." — Jodi A. Byrd, author of The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism


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Price: $24.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Karin Amimoto Ingersoll is an independent scholar, writer, and surfer based in Honolulu, Hawaii. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction  1
1. He'e Nalu: Reclaiming Ke Kai  41
2. Oceanic Literacy: A Politics and an Ethics  79
3. Seascape Epistemology: Ke Kino and Movement  103
4. Ho'okele: Seascape Epistemology as an Embodied Voyage  127
5. Halau O Ke Kai: Potential Applications of Seascape Epitemology  155
Epilogue  183
Notes  185
References  189
Index  197
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6234-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6212-8
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