“How do you foresee the transition?”
A U.S. military commander asked this question after watching Keanu Sai‘s presentation on the occupation of Hawai’i: “American Occupation of the Hawaiian State: A Century Unchecked.” I was moved to laughter throughout these three presentations today and the talk and video last night.
independent and sovereign state.”
The evidence is irrefutable and the argument elegant. The process, however, is going to take some time, as Hawaiian Nationals negotiate “the paradox of being tied to [their] own identity.” Kalawai’a Moore (“The Discursive Struggle over Hawaiian Identity and Subjectivity “) detailed the discursive collision of subjectivities shaped under terms of “colonization” with the emerging knowledge that colonization was a deception to cover up illegal occupation. Kalawai’a revels in the postmodern irony of using state theory and the status of Hawaiian Nationals to break out of an Oppressive-Resistance relationship. 🙂 He invoked Lyotard’s concept of the differend as “a case of conflict between at least two parties, that cannot be equitably resolved for lack of a rule of judgement applicable to both arguments” (Lyotard, 1988:xi).” In the Hawaiian case the referents have been broken: “the referent evoked is now the system by which states measure their own legitimate existence and validate personality under International Law.”
While Kuhio Vogeler compared the prolonged occupation of Hawai’i with that of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (“Prolonged Occupations: Hawai’i and the Baltic States”), I was reminded of Farida Vis‘ presentation yesterday (“Resisting Occupation: The Palestinian Suicide Bomber and the Western Print Media”). Kuhio was speaking of path dependency (the tendency for initial policy choices to persist: policy/practices can change with much political pressure), and Farida emphasized how the Israeli media machine is always first out with stories concerning events in the Middle East, necessarily framing any response that comes next as a reaction “to” or “against” the version already disseminated. Kuhio’s discussion of path dependency and critical junctures (after the fact, one can argue there must have been sufficient force to produce movement away from equilibrium/inertia because a change did occur) also had me thinking about this conference as a discourse event. I’ve been doing that already &emdash; although somehow I do find myself realizing these things after the trajectory is set in motion.
I told Tove at the start of today’s lunchbreak that I’m a troublemaker, she assured me that meant she would like me. 🙂 But, I qualified, “I make trouble in all directions.” Tove’s urgency to make change effective now is vitalizing: I am inspired by her clarity of vision. Children and their parents should be informed about the long-term effects of mother tongue medium instruction, which is more effective at ensuring fluent acquisition of English than early educational exposure to English. This is a slightly different issue than Rakesh Bhatt‘s insistence that learning English early will not have an adverse effect on mother tongue fluency and linguistic persistence (“Colonial Dis-course, Alter-native Ideologies, and the Politics of Linguistic Nostalgia”). I was pained, listening to Tove and Rakesh’s debate, because I sensed more areas of agreement than disagreement. It seemed to me that Rakesh “heard” Tove saying Kashmiri children should be denied English, which is far from her point. She and Robert were both arguing for the best possible conditions for teaching English to them (and anyone).
Socioeconomic class definitely is at play within the (microsocial) debate and the (macrosocial) realities. Those without material and tangible resources want and need hope and skills now: a little is immeasurably better than nothing. Rakesh wants to respond to that need now, and &emdash; really! &emdash; so do Tove and Robert. There is a definite difference between the careful construction of language policy and local solutions to immediate needs. Perhaps, however, the two approaches do not need to be mutually exclusive?