Bookstore Event: J. Kehaulani Kauanui, "Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty," Mary-Jane Rubenstein,"Pantheologies," and Joseph Weiss, "Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii"

Thursday, November 8, 2018
6:00 PM (ET)
Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore
Event Type
Bookstore Event
Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore

J. Kehaulani Kauanui
Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism
In Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty J. Kehaulani Kauanui examines contradictions of indigeneity and self-determination in U.S. domestic policy and international law. She theorizes paradoxes in the laws themselves and in nationalist assertions of Hawaiian Kingdom restoration and demands for U.S. deoccupation, which echo colonialist models of governance. Kauanui argues that Hawaiian elites' approaches to reforming and regulating land, gender, and sexuality in the early nineteenth century that paved the way for sovereign recognition of the kingdom complicate contemporary nationalist activism today, which too often includes disavowing the indigeneity of the Kanaka Maoli (Indigenous Hawaiian) people.
Problematizing the ways the positing of the Hawaiian Kingdom's continued existence has been accompanied by a denial of U.S. settler colonialism, Kauanui considers possibilities for a decolonial approach to Hawaiian sovereignty that would address the privatization and capitalist development of land and the ongoing legacy of the imposition of heteropatriarchal modes of social relations.
J. Kehaulani Kauanui is Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University, author of Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity, also published by Duke University Press, and editor of Speaking of Indigenous Politics: Conversations with Activists, Scholars, and Tribal Leaders.
Mary-Jane Rubenstein
Pantheologies: Gods, Worlds, Monsters
Pantheism is the idea that God and the world are identical—that the creator, sustainer, destroyer, and transformer of all things is the universe itself. From a monotheistic perspective, this notion is irremediably heretical since it suggests divinity might be material, mutable, and multiple. Since the excommunication of Baruch Spinoza, Western thought has demonized what it calls pantheism, accusing it of incoherence, absurdity, and—with striking regularity—monstrosity.
In this book, Mary-Jane Rubenstein seeks to diagnose this perennial repugnance through a conceptual genealogy of pantheisms. What makes pantheism “monstrous”—at once repellent and seductive—is that it scrambles the raced and gendered distinctions that Western philosophy and theology insist on drawing between activity and passivity, spirit and matter, animacy and inanimacy, and creator and created. By rejecting the fundamental difference between God and world, pantheism threatens all the other oppositions that stem from it: light versus darkness, male versus female, and humans versus every other organism.
If the panic over pantheism has to do with a fear of crossed boundaries and demolished hierarchies, then the question becomes what a present-day pantheism might disrupt and what it might reconfigure. Cobbling together heterogeneous sources—medieval heresies; their pre- and anti-Socratic forebears; general relativity, quantum mechanics, and nonlinear biologies; multiverse and indigenous cosmologies; ecofeminism, animal and vegetal studies, and new and old materialisms—Rubenstein assembles possible pluralist pantheisms. By mobilizing this monstrous mixture of unintentional God-worlds, Pantheologies seeks to give an old heresy the chance to renew our thinking.
Mary-Jane Rubenstein is professor of religion; feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; and science in society at Wesleyan University. She is the author of Strange Wonder: The Closure of Metaphysics and the Opening of Awe(Columbia, 2009) and Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse (Columbia, 2014) and the coeditor of Entangled Worlds: Religion, Science, and New Materialisms (with Catherine Keller, 2017).
Joseph Weiss
Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii: Life beyond Settler Colonialism
Colonialism in settler societies such as Canada depends on a certain understanding of the relationship between time and Indigenous peoples. Too often, these peoples have been portrayed as being without a future, destined either to disappear or assimilate into settler society. This book asserts quite the opposite: Indigenous peoples are not in any sense “out of time” in our contemporary world.
Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii shows how Indigenous peoples in Canada not only continue to have a future but are at work building many different futures – for themselves and for their non-Indigenous neighbours. Through the experiences of the residents of the Haida First Nation community of Old Massett on the islands of Haida Gwaii, Joseph Weiss explores these possible futures in detail, demonstrating how Haida ways of thinking about time, mobility, and political leadership are at the heart of contemporary strategies for addressing the dilemmas that come with life under settler colonialism.
From the threat of ecological crisis to the assertion of sovereign rights and authority, Weiss shows that the Haida people consistently turn towards their possible futures, desirable and undesirable, in order to work out how to live in and transform the present. His book breaks new ground in the exploration of the relationship between time and colonialism as experienced in the day-to-day lives of an Indigenous community.
This book will appeal to scholars and students of Indigenous studies, particularly in anthropology, ethnography, sociology, and history. Researchers planning to work with communities will learn from the author’s reflections on conducting ethnographic fieldwork with First Nations.


Joseph Weiss is an assistant professor of anthropology at Wesleyan University. This book is the result of five years of fieldwork in Old Massett and Masset with the people of the Haida First Nation. Dr. Weiss also maintains abiding interests in Truth and Reconciliation in Canada and research ethics in the social sciences. He has collaborated with the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History on the “Open Fields Project,” examining museum-Indigenous relationships. 

Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore
Get Directions
Event Date
Event Time