Imua, Me Ka Hopo Ole, 'Forward Without Fear': Native Hawaiians Contesting Americanization in the Public Schools of Territorial Hawai'i, 1900-1941
Derek Taira

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Hawaii

Primary Discipline

History of Education
This study represents a radical departure from current historical understanding of Native Hawaiians by redefining their relationship with the public schools as an assertion of indigenous self-determination, defying Americanization. Using Native Hawaiian petitions, student writings and teacher interview transcripts as well as English and Hawaiian-language newspapers and legislation, the project complicates and decenters the triumphal ââ?¬Å?civilizingââ?¬Â narrative surrounding HawaiÃ?»iââ?¬â?¢s public schools and highlights the various ways Native Hawaiians disputed, rejected, and negotiated their schooling. Specifically, it redefines schools as contested spaces in which both colonizer and colonized each projected their own, often conflicting, meanings and objectives onto public education. More broadly, it contests the exceptionalist narrative of the United States as an egalitarian democracy spreading ââ?¬Å?harmonious pluralist orderââ?¬Â by demonstrating how the islandsââ?¬â?¢ indigenous population continued to resist assimilation decades after the U.S.-supported overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and territorial annexation in 1898.
About Derek Taira
Derek Taira is an assistant professor of history and educational policy at the University of Hawai?i at M?noa and comes from a long line of public school teachers. He teaches courses on the histories of education in Hawai?i and America, the politics of education, and multicultural education. He earned his Ph.D. in history and educational policy studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016. His research focuses on the social and cultural experiences of Native Hawaiians in American schools during the first half of the twentieth century. Central to his research and teaching is an effort to promote historical awareness of the complex ways schools have been both contested sites of conflict and spaces of opportunity for marginalized communities.

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