J. Kēhaulani Kauanui is Professor of American Studies and an affiliate faculty member in Anthropology. She teaches courses related to Indigenous sovereignty, settler colonial studies, anarchist history and activism, and critical race and ethnic studies.
Kauanui earned her B.A. in Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 1992 (after transferring from Irvine Valley College in 1989). She took her Ph.D. in History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2000.
She is one of the six co-founders of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). After serving on the founding steering committee from 2005-2008, from 2008-2009, she served as an acting council member. From 2009-2012, she served as an elected as a member of the inaugural council. She has also served as an elected member the national council of the American Studies Association (2013-2016), and was the 2008 President of the New England American Studies Association.
Kauanui is the author of: Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity (Duke University Press 2008); Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism (Duke University Press 2018); and Speaking of Indigenous Politics: Conversations with Activists, Scholars, and Tribal Leaders (University of Minnesota Press 2018), which features select interviews from her public affairs radio show “Indigenous Politics,” which aired from 2007-2013.
Kauanui co-edits a book series with Jean M. O’Brien called “Critical Indigeneities” for the University of Carolina Press. She recently guest-edited a special issue of Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies, “The Politics of Indigeneity, Anarchist Praxis, and Decolonization” (May 2021). She also is working on a new book project, provisionally titled “Hawaiian Decolonization and the Dilemma of Feminism.” Kauanui also has a long-term research project, Hawaiian New England: Christian Conversion and Colonial Grammar.
Kauanui’s essays appear in the following edited books, among others: Seeds of Change: New York – a Botany of Colonization, The Art of Maria Thereza Alves, Eds. Carin Kuoini and Wilma Lukatsch (forthcoming, New School for Social Research, 2022); Allotment Stories: Narrating Indigenous Land Relations Under Settler Siege, Eds. Daniel Heath Justice and Jean M. O’Brien (UMP, 2022); Keywords for American Cultural Studies, Eds. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler (NYU, 2020); L’anarcho–indigénisme, Eds. Francis Dupuis-Déri and Benjamin Pillet (Lux Canada 2019); Ethnographies of U.S. Empire, Eds. Carole McGranahan and John Collins (DUP 2018); Critically Sovereign: Indigenous Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Ed. Joanne Barker (DUP, 2017); Formations of United States Colonialism, Ed. Alyosha Goldstein (DUP 2014); A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land, and Sovereignty, Eds. Noelani Goodyear-Ka’opua, Ikaika Hussey, Erin Kahunawaika’ala Wright (DUP 2014); Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, and Indigenous Rights in the United States: A Sourcebook, Eds. Amy Den Ouden and Jean M. O’Brien (UNC 2013); Decolonizing Native Histories, Ed. Florencia E. Mallon (DUP 2011); Beyond the Frame: Women of Color and Visual Representation, Eds. Neferti Tadiar, and Angela Y. Davis (Palgrave Macmillan 2005); and Asian American Studies After Critical Mass, Ed. Kent Ono (Wiley-Blackwell 2005).
Her work also appears in the following journals: Postcolonial Studies, Journal of Popular Music Studies, South Atlantic Quarterly, The American Quarterly, Cinema Journal, Politica & Società, American Studies, Comparative American Studies, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, American Indian Quarterly, Amerasia Journal, Mississippi Review, The Contemporary Pacific, The Hawaiian Journal of History, ‘Oiwi: Native Hawaiian Journal, American Indian Culture & Research Journal, Hūlili: Multidisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-Being, and Social Text. Kauanui has also written on Hawaiian sovereignty politics for the Guardian UK, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Honolulu Advertiser, and The Honolulu Weekly.
Kauanui has co-edited three other special issues of the following journals: “Women Writing Oceania: Weaving the Sails of the Waka,” Pacific Studies (2007) with Caroline Sinavaiana; “Native Pacific Cultural Studies on the Edge,” The Contemporary Pacific (2001) with Vicente M. Diaz; and “Migrating Feminisms,” Women’s Studies International Forum (1998) with Kalpana Ram; and Kauanui also guest-edited a “Retrospective” on the concept of sovereignty for the journal Cultural Anthropology (August 2017).
She is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and has held fellowships from: the School of Advanced Research (formerly the School of American Research), the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, Rockefeller Archives Center, National Science Foundation, Fulbright (Maori Studies, University of Auckland), and Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury. She has held an appointment as an Organization of American Historians (OAH) Distinguished Lecturer, and in 2016, she was nominated to the Distinguished Speakers Bureau of the American Studies Association.
Kauanui currently serves on the editorial boards of AGITATE!, American Indian Quarterly and Hūlili: Multidisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-Being. From 2005-2010, she served as an editorial board member for Journal of Pacific History. She has also served on the editorial boards of Journal of Pacific History (2005-2010) and Settler Colonial Studies (2011-2017). Additionally, from 2007-2009, she served on the editorial board for the School of American Research (now the School of Advanced Research) Press. She also currently serves on the advisory boards of the Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism; and Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific. And from 2017-2020, she served on the advisory board for Island Studies Journal.
As noted above, from February 2007 through June 2013, she served as the sole producer and host of a public affairs radio program, “Indigenous Politics: From Native New England and Beyond,” which was produced in the studios of WESU, Middletown, CT. The show was widely syndicated across a dozen states on Pacifica radio affiliate stations. Past episodes are archived online: www.indigenouspolitics.com.
Additionally, she was a member of The Dream Committee, a radio collective that produced a program that ran from September 2010 through May 2013 called “Horizontal Power Hour” (also on WESU), which featured anarchist culture, politics, and philosophies. All 59 past episodes are archived online: http://horizontalpowerhour.wordpress.com/.
In February 2014, with a new group of students, Kauanui helped launch a program called “Anarchy on Air,” which is produced and broadcast through WESU. The program emerged from her course, “Anarchy in America: From Haymarket to Occupy Wall Street.” The show is on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but all past episodes are archived here: http://anarchyonairwesu.tumblr.com/.