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:

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.

Research & Publications

2016|Duke University Press|Gary Okihiro
2009|University of California Press|Gary Okihiro

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.

2009|University of California Press|Gary Okihiro

Plucked from tropical America, the pineapple was brought to European tables and hothouses before it was conveyed back to the tropics, where it came to dominate U.S. and world markets. Pineapple Culture is a dazzling history of the world's tropical and temperate zones told through the pineapple's illustrative career. Following Gary Y. Okihiro's enthusiastically received Island World: A History of Hawaii and the United States, Pineapple Culture continues to upend conventional ideas about history, space, and time with its provocative vision. At the center of the story is the thoroughly modern tale of Dole's "Hawaiian" pineapple, which, from its island periphery, infiltrated the white, middle-class homes of the continental United States. The transit of the pineapple brilliantly illuminates the history and geography of empires--their creations and accumulations; the circuits of knowledge, capital, labor, goods, and the cultures that characterize them; and their assumed power to name, classify, and rule over alien lands, peoples, and resources.

2001|Columbia University Press|Gary Okihiro

Offering a rich and insightful road map of Asian American history as it has evolved over more than 200 years, this book marks the first systematic attempt to take stock of this field of study. It examines, comments, and questions the changing assumptions and contexts underlying the experiences and contributions of an incredibly diverse population of Americans. Arriving and settling in this nation as early as the 1790s, with American-born generations stretching back more than a century, Asian Americans have become an integral part of the American experience; this cleverly organized book marks the trajectory of that journey, offering researchers invaluable information and interpretation.

  • Part 1 offers a synoptic narrative history, a chronology, and a set of periodizations that reflect different ways of constructing the Asian American past.
  • Part 2 presents lucid discussions of historical debates -- such as interpreting the anti-Chinese movement of the late 1800s and the underlying causes of Japanese American internment during World War II -- and such emerging themes as transnationalism and women and gender issues.
  • Part 3 contains a historiographical essay and a wide-ranging compilation of book, film, and electronic resources for further study of core themes and groups, including Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hmong, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, and others.

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