The History Department hosts an ongoing History workshop for talks and presentations by UH faculty and visiting scholars throughout the year. The Workshop is also available to graduate students to present research and practice job talks. The History Workshop usually takes place every second week on Fridays, 2:30 to 4:00 pm in the History Department Seminar Room, Sakamaki Hall A201, unless otherwise noted.
The theme for our Spring 2015 History Workshop is “Capitalism in Crisis: Development, Sustainability, & Inequality in Global Perspective.” We live in a world confronting renewed conflict over access to natural resources, dramatic fluctuations in the international capitalist system, ongoing debates about the origins of global economic inequality, and heated differences over whether we are witnessing capitalism’s global triumph or decline. This series seeks to provide a forum to discuss these issues and understand them within longer historical trajectories and debates about the economy, society, governance, the environment, and people’s struggles to survive.
FEBRUARY 13, 2015
Red Spouts over Honolulu: When the First Soviet Whaling Fleet Came to Hawaiʻi and Re-routed Pacific Environmental History
Lecturer: Ryan Jones, University of Auckland
When the Soviet whaling ship, Aleut, arrived unannounced into Honolulu Harbor on November 28, 1932, residents of Hawaiʻi were baffled and intrigued. The United States had no diplomatic relations with the new Communist Russia and port authorities had no idea how to process the ship. In the midst of the Great Depression, many citizens flocked curiously to get a first glimpse of these representatives of the world’s only worker’s state. The Bolshevik officers on board responded eagerly, distributing literature and organizing balalaika concerts for the Honolulu radio. The Aleut’s seven days in port were a rare bright moment in early Soviet-American relations. But the meeting represented something more as well—Soviet planners were fired by memories of earlier Russian imperial whaling in the Pacific, including Hawaiʻi, and saw the Aleut’s voyage as an announcement that Russia had returned as a Pacific power. Thus, at a time when Pacific whaling had nearly ended, the Aleut’s arrival in Honolulu heralded a new era that would culminate in the Soviets’ near total annihilation of the ocean’s great whales.
FEBRUARY 27, 2015
Blind No More: Self-Emancipation, Northern Politics, and the Fugitive Slave Crisis in Antebellum America
Lecturer: Jonathan Daniel Wells, University of Michigan
Placing African Americans at the center of Civil War causation, this paper argues that black Americans’ desire for liberty, combined with the increasing mobility as a result of the Industrial Revolution, created an untenable situation that ultimately led to civil war. As white politicians struggled mightily but unsuccessfully to maintain well-defined borders between slavery and freedom, African Americans fled to the North, followed by slave catchers and kidnappers. As northern states try to maintain these borders, they generate a powerful northern states’ rights ideology that helps to turn northern public opinion against bondage. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 makes the point even clearer. Civil war became inevitable due to the industrial revolution, the resultant enhanced mobility, and African Americans’ desire for freedom, which together created a crisis in sovereignty. We know that African American history has altered our understanding of the war and Reconstruction, but focusing on black history can also help us to rethink causation and change our understanding of antebellum America.
MARCH 3, 2015
Attica, Attica, Attica! From the Possibilities of Prisoner Rebellion to the Problem of Punitive Justice Policy
Lecturer: Heather Ann Thompson, Temple University
On September 9, 1971 over 1200 prisoners took over a maximum security prison in upstate New York. Over the course of their four day rebellion the world watched as prisoners negotiated with top state officials for better living conditions and basic civil rights. Suddenly, on September 13, 1971, Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered the forcible retaking of this prison by hundreds of heavily armed state troopers. The result was a massacre of prisoners and hostages alike. In this talk, Heather Ann Thompson will not only shine new light of this civil rights rebellion, but she will also place it in its broader historical context.
APRIL 8, 2015
Covert Netherworld: An Invisible Arena for Contesting Global Power in the 21st Century
Lecturer: Alfred W. McCoy, University of Wisconsin-Madison
APRIL 24, 2015
Forests in Revolutionary France: Community Sustainability vs. State Conservation, 1669-1848
Lecturer: Kieko Matteson, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
In this talk, Kieko Matteson explores the long, often violent history of struggle between state and local stakeholders over France’s forests in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In an age when wood constituted the single most vital natural resource—both as the country’s main form of energy and as the essential ingredient of buildings, tools, and transportation on land and sea—the question of who would control access to France’s forests and for what ends was a matter of critical social, political, and economic importance. Drawing on research she conducted for her first book, Forests in Revolutionary France: Conservation, Community, and Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Matteson will discuss the rising tensions between customary modes of woodland management, state conservation initiatives, and the growing demands of industry. These conflicts not only influenced French rural politics in the revolutions of 1789 and 1848; they also informed later environmental policymaking around the globe and continue to shape France’s physical landscape in the present day.
The theme for the Fall 2014 History Workshops was “Capitalism in Crisis: Development, Sustainability, & Inequality in Global Perspective.” We live in a world confronting renewed conflict over access to natural resources, dramatic fluctuations in the international capitalist system, ongoing debates about the origins of global economic inequality, and heated differences over whether we are witnessing capitalism’s global triumph or decline. The series “Capitalism in Crisis” seeks to provide a forum to discuss these issues and understand them within longer historical trajectories and debates about the economy, society, governance, the environment, and peoples’ struggles to survive.
OCTOBER 3, 2014
Vegas at Odds: Labor Conflict in a Leisure Economy, 1960-1985
Lecturer: Professor James Kraft, Professor of History, UHM Department of History
Professor Kraft’s latest book explores dynamics of the workforce—the casino and hotel workers and their relations with the companies they work for and occasionally strike against. Along the way, the book traces the rise and changing fortunes of organized and unorganized labor as Las Vegas evolved from a small, somewhat seedy desert oasis into the glitzy tourist destination that it is today.
Drawing on scores of interviews, personal and published accounts, and public records, the book brings to life the largely behind-the-scenes battles over control of Sin City workplaces between 1960 and 1985. Describing successful and failed organizing drives, struggles over pay and equal rights, and worker grievances and arbitration the book shows how the resort industry’s evolution affected hotel and casino workers. From changes in the political and economic climate to large-scale strikes, backroom negotiations, and individual worker-supervisor confrontations, Kraft explains how Vegas’s overwhelmingly service-oriented economy works—and doesn’t work—for the people and companies who cater to the city’s pleasure-seeking visitors.
OCTOBER 17, 2014
How Whales Experienced Capitalist Modernity: From Blubber and Baleen to Oceanic Gurus to Ecosystem Service Providers
Lecturer: Professor Frank Zelko, Associate Professor of History, University of Vermont
They might not be aware of it, but whales have been dramatically affected by modernity. Like many animals, their lives are heavily determined by a primate species that has come to dominate the planet. For most of their long history, whales had little interaction with this terrestrial biped and it presented few dangers. In the blink of an evolutionary eye, however, these primates learned to hunt and kill the world’s largest cetaceans in the remotest parts of the world’s great oceans. In more recent decades, however, many of them came to think that this was not such a great idea. Some even felt it was immoral. Frank Zelko will explore the changing attitudes toward whales throughout the past century, focusing in particular on the rise of the anti-whaling movement.
NOVEMBER 7, 2014
From Medicine to Beverage to Art: Technology and Changes in Tea Consumption
Lecturer: Professor Wayne Farris, Professor of History, UHM Department of History
This presentation is part of an attempt to re-write the history of Japanese tea. Conventionally, the history of tea in Japan is synonymous with the story of the “Way of Tea” also known as chanoyu or sadō. While the story is accurate so far as it goes, Professor Farris argues that it fails to provide the agricultural, technological, and commercial context in which the Japanese art of tea developed. Until about 1250, tea was considered a medicine, as exemplified by Drink Tea and Prolong Your Life authored by Yōsai (1141-1215). Beginning in 1250, however, technological changes arising in Song China and imported to Japan by thirsty Buddhist clerics and warriors converted the brown, bitter liquid into a sweeter, more delicious beverage. These technological changes may be documented both in Song China and in late Kamakura Japan through the cache of documents connected to the Kanezawa warrior household. These inventions eventually were responsible for the spread of tea consumption to the commoner populace after 1400. Then, two more technological changes originating in Japan during the sixteenth century, along with the importation of a new strain of Camellia sinensis from Ming China, made the beverage even more palatable. Uji became the area producing the finest tea in Japan and was the preferred tea for the masters of the 1500s. Sen Rikyū’s art is unthinkable without the various technological changes that commenced long before his time.
NOVEMBER 14, 2014
We Sell Drugs: The Alchemy of US Empire
Lecturer: Professor Suzanna Reiss, Associate Professor of History, UHM Department of History
Professor Reiss’s book explores the history of US-led international drug control to provide new perspectives on the economic, ideological, and political foundations of a Cold War American empire. US officials assumed the helm of international drug control after World War II at a moment of unprecedented geopolitical influence embodied in the growing economic clout of its pharmaceutical industry. We Sell Drugs is a study grounded in the transnational geography and political economy of the coca-leaf and coca-derived commodities market stretching from Peru and Bolivia into the United States. More than a narrow biography of one famous plant and its equally famous derivative products—Coca-Cola and cocaine—this book situates these commodities within the larger landscape of drug production and consumption. The book also argues that the legal status of any given drug is largely premised on who grew, manufactured, distributed, and consumed it and not on the qualities of the drug itself. Drug control is a powerful tool for ordering international trade, national economies, and society’s habits and daily lives. In a historical landscape animated by struggles over political economy, national autonomy, hegemony, and racial equality, We Sell Drugs insists on the socio-historical underpinnings of designations of legality to explore how drug control became a major weapon in asserting control of domestic and international affairs.
DECEMBER 2, 2014
Protecting the Pearl of Soviet Asia: Post-War Development, Conservation, & Lake Baikal
Lecturer: Professor Nicholas Breyfogle, Associate Professor of History, Ohio State University
In August of 1958, one of the most visible and successful environmental protection movements in Soviet history exploded onto the public stage in the USSR. In an effort to shield Lake Baikal and its surroundings from the effects of a dramatic post-WWII campaign at industrial development in eastern Siberia, scholars and writers published exposés in both local and all-union newspapers and lobbied behind the scenes for changes in economic development policy. Coming out in advance of Silent Spring, the proponents of Baikal alerted the Soviet public and its leadership to the threats of aggressive industrialization to the natural world. This talk tells the story of Lake Baikal environmentalism and places the Soviet experience into the larger context of the global post-war development of environmentalism. The Lake Baikal movement is a reminder of important environmentalist efforts in the Soviet Union, which show that socialism and environmentalism were not mutually exclusive.
The theme for our Spring 2014 History Workshop is “Roots & Routes: Mobility, Migration, and Diasporas.” Central to the work on international and global studies are the ongoing debates about hybridity, cosmopolitanism, and indigeneity. “Roots & Routes: Mobility, Migration, and Diasporas” seeks to create a forum for discussions about the formulation and reformulation of transnational identities, circuits, and exchanges created by globalization, colonialism, and cross-cultural encounters. Possible topics might include but are not limited to the biography or prosopography of international actors; migration, collective identity and historical memory; historical formations based on travel, tourism, and trade; colonial interactions and the relations between metropole and periphery; slavery, human trafficking, or other forms of forced migration; or historicizing and theorizing diaspora.
JANUARY 24, 2014
Polynesian Types: The Science of Making Whiteness Indigenous to the Pacific
Lecturer: Dr. Maile Arvin, University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, History of Art and Visual Culture, UC Santa Cruz
Where do Polynesians come from? What does a Polynesian look like? Do real Polynesians still exist? This talk examines the history and contemporary salience of the Polynesian type, a genre of popular and scientific speculation intent on revealing the racial origins and constitution of indigenous Pacific Islanders. First formulated in nineteenth-century social sciences including ethnology and linguistics, drawings, photographs, sculptures and maps of Polynesian types seek to answer the so-called “Polynesian Problem” across a wide range of disciplines, from physical anthropology and sociology to genetics and genomics. Throughout the Polynesian type genre, the Polynesian race is represented as (biologically and culturally) almost white, in stark contrast to other peoples of the Pacific, especially “black” Melanesians. The logic of the Polynesian type genre therefore promotes viewing whiteness in the Pacific as natural, benevolent, and even genetic—and thus, indigenous. This talk analyzes this history of the Polynesian type in order to understand the ways decolonization must undo such racial logics.
FEBRUARY 14, 2014
Britton Hammon and the Sonic Dimensions of Atlantic Communication Networks
Lecturer: Professor Rich Rath, Associate Professor of History, UHM Department of History
Throughout my academic career I have been concerned with roots, then routes when it comes to African culture in the Americas. The narrative of Briton Hammon, an African American from New England who went to sea and had a thirteen year adventure/travail, frustrates that well-worn path, leaving Hammon’s roots a place where speculation will have to suffice. In foreclosing the habitual, however, Hammon offers us a window into the day-to-day workings of plural, multi-tiered communication networks in the Atlantic world.
MARCH 7, 2014
From Highland to Sea: Border-Crossing and Frontier Protest in Qing Dynasty China
Lecturer: Professor Wensheng Wang, Associate Professor of History, UHM Department of History
The last quarter of the eighteenth century witnessed a crescendo of social protests, which rocked China’s last dynasty—the Qing (1644-1911)—and engulfed much of the empire. This paper focuses on the White Lotus rebellion (1796-1805) and south China piracy (1790s-1810), which were the climax to this escalating wave of upheavals. It places the two crises in their frontier contexts, giving centrality to the local, supra-local, or transnational logic of collective action and popular politics. It examines the internal borderland of the Han River highlands (astride the provincial border of Hubei, Sichuan, and Shaanxi) as well as the external maritime frontier of the South China Sea (across the Sino-Vietnamese water world), exploring how fluid ecology and socioeconomic patterns interacted with rigid and weak political establishments to create a sort of nonstate space that precipitated the dual upheavals.
MARCH 21, 2014
Roots of Treatment, Routes of Knowledge: Scurvy in the 18th-Century North Pacific
Lecturer: Professor Matthew Romaniello, Associate Professor of History, UHM Department of History
Finding an effective treatment of scurvy was one of the essential developments for European exploration in the Pacific Ocean. It was no less important a cure for the Russian Empire, which suffered recurring epidemics of the disease throughout its history. Once British doctor, John Cook, treated an outbreak in Riga in the 1730s as a part of his long career in Russia. He provided information from his case study to James Lind, who relied on this outbreak as evidence that land and sea scurvy were in fact one disease in his Treatise on Scurvy (1753). Lind’s study was utilized by James Cook on his voyages across the Pacific to develop the prophylactic treatments (later ‘the Cook method’) that were adopted as standards for the British navy by the end of the eighteenth century. When Adam Johann von Krusenstern and luri Lisianskii led Russia’s first circumnavigatory voyages early in the nineteenth century, they in turn relied upon the scurvy treatments developed in the British navy.
APRIL 4, 2014
How Filipino Veterans Joined the Greatest Generation, 1945-2009
Lecturer: Professor Christopher Capozzola, Associate Professor of History, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences
This talk draws from Brothers of the Pacific, a transnational history of Filipinos in the armed forces of the U.S. and the Philippines from the 1890s to the present. Focusing on the struggle of Filipino World War II veterans during the last seven decades to obtain equal rights of citizenship and veterans benefits, the talk situates the claims of Filipino veterans within a global politics of decolonization and explores the possibilities—and limits—of transnational political activism during and after the Cold War.
APRIL 11, 2014
Fly Hawaiʻi!: Migrations and Vacations in the Jet Age
Lecturer: Professor John Rosa, Assistant Professor of History, UHM Department of History
Barely 80 years old, the history of air travel as a common mode of transportation is often overlooked. This talk examines the post-1959 era when statehood and commercial jets dramatically increased the numbers of migrants and visitors coming to Hawaiʻi.
MAY 2, 2014
History Graduate Student Symposium-Roots & Routes: Mobility, Migration, and Diasporas
UHM Department of History, Moderator: Professor Vina Lanzona
Matt Cavert: Claiming the Frontier: Colonial Resource Law in the French Pacific; Catherine Ulep: Roots and Routes: The Emergence of Multiracial Demographics and Intermarriage in Hawaiʻi from 1800-1850; Uluwehi Hopkins: For the Benefit of Her Race: Emma Nakuina and the Channels of American Empire; Katie Dacanay: Between Ladies’ Home Journal and Liwayway: Competing Representations of Modern Womanhood in the American Colonial Philippines, 1922-1937
The theme for our Fall 2013 History Workshop is “Roots & Routes: Mobility, Migration, and Diasporas.” Central to the work on international and global studies are the ongoing debates about hybridity, cosmopolitanism, and indigeneity. “Roots & Routes: Mobility, Migration, and Diasporas” seeks to create a forum for discussions about the formulation and reformulation of transnational identities, circuits, and exchanges created by globalization, colonialism, and cross-cultural encounters. Possible topics might include but are not limited to the biography or prosopography of international actors; migration, collective identity and historical memory; historical formations based on travel, tourism, and trade; colonial interactions and the relations between metropole and periphery; slavery, human trafficking, or other forms of forced migration; or historicizing and theorizing diaspora.
SEPTEMBER 6, 2013
Agency, Dependency and Transnational Circulation between Oceania and Pacific Rimlands
Lecturer: Professor David Chappell, Associate Professor of History, UHM Department of History
Migration has been a historical reality in Oceania since the first peopling of its archipelagoes thousands of years ago. From early settlement and ongoing inter-island exchanges to more recent labor recruiting for foreign ships and plantations to the airborne movement of Pacific Islanders today to new frontiers of opportunity stretching from Australia to Oklahoma and beyond, it has posed challenges for scholarly interpretation. Is contemporary migration a sign of economic dependency or indigenous agency or a combination, as the MIRAB (migration, remittances, aid and bureaucracy) acronym suggests? Or perhaps, as Epeli Hauʻofa argued, it’s a sign of continuity with ancestral voyaging traditions? It also raises questions of identity as Pacific Islanders growing up overseas try to connect with homelands and cultures/languages they may not know personally, and in some cases the majority of the “nation” takes up residence overseas, creating new political influences. This presentation will raise such issues, suggest how some scholars have grappled with them, and invite the audience to voice their own opinions, because, to paraphrase a Samoan proverb, migration as a topic of study is like “a slippery fish.”
OCTOBER 4, 2013
Judah I. Abrahams: The ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ of a Georgian Convert and Traveler, or ‘At that, she tore the hair from her head’
Lecturer: Professor Peter Hoffenberg, Associate Professor of History, UHM Department of History
This talk introduces and explores the major events and possible meanings of the life of Judah I. Abrahams (b. 1802), an English convert from Judaism to Protestant Christianity during the 1820s. We will trace his physical, spiritual and social ‘roots’ and ‘routes’ as he moves around and makes connections with other Christians in England and Europe, across the Atlantic, through New England—and back to Europe. What might be the historical and historiographical significance of his self-conscious actions in light of the ways we think about conversion and conversion narratives, modern identity and fulfillment, Anglo-Jewish history, and social networks before ‘Facebook’? Judah’s travels and writings provide a biographical and autobiographical foundation to explore such issues.
NOVEMBER 1, 2013
Black, White, and Red: Remembering China’s Revolution through its Photographs
Lecturer: Professor Shana Brown, Associate Professor of History, UHM Department of History
In the Chinese revolution of the mid-twentieth century, photographs were weapons. They were tools of ideological combat, which allowed major forces and minor voices on both ends of the political spectrum to make a case regarding China’s best political and social path forward. Photographers were fully integrated into the press teams of both the Chinese government and the opposition Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and visual politics remained significant after Communist victory in 1949. Indeed, photographic narratives were central in the mythic narratives of revolution. In the past decade, there has been an intriguing revival of popular appreciation for CCP propaganda photography, now labeled “red photography.” This talk discusses some of the important qualities of Chinese political photography as it was created during the revolutionary era and reflects on recent popularity of red photography.
DECEMBER 6, 2013
Reflections on the World Historical Consequences of Record-Making and Record-Keeping
Lecturer: Professor Fabio López Lázaro, Associate Professor of History, UHM Department of History
In rushing to ensure coverage of the facts, World History textbooks often give a misleadingly even impression (globally speaking) of our record-based historical understanding of the deep-play complexity of events. This talk reflects on three case studies of migration—writ small—which take us from the twelfth-century Mediterranean through seventeenth-century Asia to the twenty-first-century Pacific. It explores how our heuristic standards of judgment relate to the varying types of historical records which we inherit or discover and reveals the world historical possibilities afforded by histoire événementielle evidence, its limitations, and its relationship to professional history.