Brilliantly mixing geology, folklore, music, cultural commentary, and history, Gary Y. Okihiro overturns the customary narrative in which the United States acts upon and dominates Hawai'i. Instead, Island World depicts the islands' press against the continent, endowing America's story with fresh meaning. Okihiro's reconsidered history reveals Hawaiians fighting in the Civil War, sailing on nineteenth-century New England ships, and living in pre-gold rush California. He points to Hawai'i's lingering effect on twentieth-century American culture–from surfboards, hula, sports, and films, to art, imagination, and racial perspectives–even as the islands themselves succumb slowly to the continental United States. In placing Hawai'i at the center of the national story, Island World rejects the premise that continents comprise "natural" states while islands are "tiny spaces," without significance, to be acted upon by continents. An astonishingly compact tour de force, this book not only revises the way we think about islands, oceans, and continents, it also recasts the way we write about space and time.
Focus areas: Third world studies, comparative ethnic studies, African and world history
Gary Y. Okihiro’s research focuses on United States, southern Africa, and world history.
Okihiro is the author of 11 books, most recently a trilogy on space/time, two volumes of which have been published:
- Third World Studies: Theorizing Liberation (2016)
- American History Unbound: Asians and Pacific Islanders (2015)
- Pineapple Culture: A History of the Tropical and Temperate Zones (2009)
- Island World: A History of Hawai’i and the United States (2008)
Other publications include:
- A Social History of the Bakwena and the Peoples of the Kalahari of Southern Africa, 19th Century (2000)
- Common Ground: Reimagining American History (2001)
- The Columbia Guide to Asian American History (2001)
Okihiro is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Studies Association, an honorary doctorate degree from the University of the Ryukyus (Okinawa), and is a past president of the Association for Asian American Studies.
Okihiro received his PhD in history from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1976.