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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Doling out Colonialism: Refiguring Archival Memory of Settler Colonialism in the Hawaiian Islands


In 1893, a group of primarily American insurgents overthrew the Kingdom of Hawai’i and Queen Liliuokalani with support from the United States navy. This marked a turning point in a long process of settler colonialism, after which Sanford B. Dole led the Republic of Hawai’i and advocated for annexation as an American territory. The Dole Family Papers archive at the Huntington Library contains numerous resources relating to the overthrow and the events leading up to and following it. The resources’ positionality within the framework of family archive and scholarly institution elides their potential for evidencing historic injustices and raising awareness of the issues Native Hawaiians have and continue to face. This essay will utilize frameworks for decolonizing archives and identify ways of re-figuring the Dole Family Papers in a way that would disrupt hegemonic understandings of Hawai’i and support a deeper understanding of settler colonialism’s impact on Native Hawaiians.

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