We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Potent Mana

Lessons in Power and Healing

Wende Elizabeth Marshall

Publication Year: 2011

Brilliant study of the effects of colonialism on the physical, mental, and spiritual health of Native Hawaiians, and their efforts to decolonize through healing and remembering. Brilliantly elucidating and weaving together the forces of indigenous sovereignty, colonialism, and personal health, Potent Mana offers a uniquely holistic and intimate portrait of the long-term effects of colonialism on an indigenous people., the kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiians). An ethnographic exploration based on fifteen months of research, the book moves the conversation on the dangerous effects of colonialism forward by exploring the theories and practices of Native Hawaiians engaged in decolonization. Decades of substance abuse, mental illness, depression, language loss, and the concomitant dispossession from sacred lands have accompanied colonialism. Consequently, healing, both mental and physical, are essential to decolonization and indigenous sovereignty in twenty-first century Hawai’i. Native Hawaiian-run treatment centers and clinics more than political rallies are centers for healing and decolonization on O’ahu today. The effects of colonialism and the measures taken to counter and move beyond it, as Wende Marshall convincingly argues, do not take place solely on a supralocal level but shatteringly involve the physical and emotional well-being of real individuals. Becoming decolonized is about overcoming the shame of colonialism, and requires a process of remembering the traditions of ancestors and reinterpreting and rewriting histories that have only been told from a colonial point of view. Decolonization is an indigenous perspective, and an understanding that health was impossible without political power and cultural integrity.

Published by: State University of New York Press


pdf iconDownload PDF

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF
p. vii


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. ix-xi

read more

INTRODUCTION: Ethnography of Decolonization in Hawai‘i

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-19

The term decolonization was applied, after the Second World War, to the achievement of independence and recognition of indigenous national governments by former colonial rulers. Decolonization, in this sense, was synonymous with formal national liberation and was understood as an achievement in the public domain of politics, often at the behest of the colonial power...

read more

1. KA PO‘E KAHIKO: The People of Old

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 21-43

In order to understand efforts toward decolonization in the late twentieth century, it is necessary to understand what colonialism meant from the perspective and experience of the colonized. This chapter tells the story of ka po‘e kahiko—the ancestors of Native Hawaiians, or the people of old—who experienced the trauma of Western “discovery.” Anthropologist and historian Greg Dening wrote that “giving the dead a voice, letting their signatures on life be witnessed,” motivated his history writing. But it is not only...

read more

2. WAI‘ANAEA: Space of Resistance

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 45-67

Before I moved to the working-class community of Wai‘anae on the leeward coast of O‘ahu in early 1996, I stayed briefly in Honolulu at the University of Hawai‘i. In casual conversations I learned an important distinction about the community I planned to study. Wai‘anae, I was told, was “dangerous,” “rough,” and “really, really local.” A Korean graduate student in biostatistics worried about my safety and wondered what I might learn in...

read more

3. MANA What the Data Hide

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 69-88

This chapter explores the health status of Native Hawaiians in the late twentieth century, the conditions that produced the diseases affecting them, and the reinterpretations of the facts of Native Hawaiian morbidity and mortality from an epistemology of decolonization. The beliefs and practices of Native Hawaiians were not extinguished by American history, Western science, politics, religion, or capitalist economics. The descendants of ka po‘e kahiko endured. They survived the deadly epidemics...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 89-110

According to Western sources, the origins of Hawaiian history lie in the drama that culminates in the “unification” of ka pae ‘āina and the founding of a nation-state (see Anderson 1865, 37; Ellis 1979[1825], 11; Kuykendall 1965[1938], 47). In these narrations, Kamehameha’s army lands at Waikīkī, and with little resistance from the forces of the O‘ahu Chief Kalanikūpule, advances up through Nu‘uanu Valley. Kalanikūpule’s army is forced to retreat (the army is said to have “fought stubbornly”) up over the mountain cliffs known as the Pali. Some of Kalanikūpule’s men escape by climbing down the mountains...

read more

5. KA LEO: Remembering Hawaiian

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 111-132

The colonizers’ notion that Western ways were superior and the enforcement of these Western ways rendered Hawaiian ways of knowing and being illegitimate. This was particularly true of the enforcement of the English language in Hawaiian schools, the hegemony of Christianity, and the demotion of Hawaiian cosmology. But Hawaiian ways did not disappear. In the 1990s, ideas and practices that had been harbored underground were reinterpreted...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 133-157

When Hawai‘i was under martial law, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, a baby girl was born whose Hawaiian name was concealed between a Christian first and last name. Concealing Hawaiian names was a widespread form of quiet resistance to the colonial law requiring the use of...

read more

CONCLUSION: “Ropes of Resistance” and Alternative Futures

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 159-171

Trask’s eloquence regarding the trauma of dispossession makes clear that the colonized were affected at the level of families, and of bodies and souls, and not just in the public domains of politics and economics. Structurally and ideologically, in both formal and intimate realms, colonialism meant the erasure of the history, culture, and cosmology of Kanaka Maoli. The structures of Hawaiian society were dismembered. Dispossession from the land, which in the cosmology of ka po‘e kahiko was a familial relation, was a profound trauma that severed...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 173-190


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 191-195


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 197-221


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 223-230

E-ISBN-13: 9781438434360
E-ISBN-10: 1438434367
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438434353
Print-ISBN-10: 1438434359

Page Count: 242
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 733047750
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Potent Mana

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Self-determination, National -- Hawaii.
  • Hawaii -- Colonization.
  • Hawaiians -- Ethnic identity
  • Hawaiians -- Social conditions.
  • Indigenous peoples -- Ethnic identity.
  • Indigenous peoples -- Government relations.
  • Colonization -- Psychological aspects.
  • Hawaii -- History -- 1959-.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access