Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


M. Lynn Weiss

Committee Member

Grey Gundaker

Committee Member

Michelle Lelièvre

Committee Member

Charles McGovern

Committee Member

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui


This dissertation is an interdisciplinary historical study of American settler-colonial state formation that focuses on the contentious political relationship between the U.S. and Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) after World War II. The central objects of study are three Hawaiʻi-inspired American popular-cultural formations — surfing, tiki culture, and police procedural television — that have very rarely been examined through the analytic lens of indigeneity. In three case studies, I demonstrate how popular-cultural production and consumption has mediated historically specific modes of colonial apprehension. This dissertation develops a methodological approach that merges archival research of undigitized source material with textual and cultural analysis. This dissertation’s central claim is that U.S.-Hawaiian relations, since the end of World War II, have been shaped by a form of knowledge production that I call colonial apprehension: practices for generating and enforcing understandings about Indigenous peoples, places, and epistemologies that ultimately aim (and consistently fail) to neutralize the threat to settler-colonial authority posed by Indigenous sovereignty and knowledge. I draw on the multiple meanings of the word apprehension — comprehension, containment, anxiety — in order to show how settler-colonial knowledge and violence is (re)produced in Americans’ everyday lives and, importantly, how it is made vulnerable by an Indigenous politics of decolonization.




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