Kēwaikaliko's Benocide: Reversing the Imperial Gaze of Rice v. Cayetano and its Legal Progeny
Abstract

Through the use of historically legible images and the spatial configurations of a lynching, Hawaiian visual artist Kēwaikaliko critiques the legal challenges emerging out of the 2000 Rice v. Cayetano Supreme Court decision in his artwork Benocide. Providing observations of the complex power relations between Native Hawaiians, Asian Americans, and whites, the artwork draws attention to the hidden aspects of colonial history and racist power that underpin both the authority of the courts and the legal assaults in U.S. occupied Hawai'i. Kēwaikaliko assembles various historical references to theorize on race and indigeneity challenging the sanctity of U.S. jurisprudence by implicating it in the maintenance of a violent colonial order dependent on antiindigenous genocide. By highlighting visuality, this essay traces how Benocide appropriates an imperial gaze blind to Hawaiian birthrights and reverses it upon settlers and collaborative Hawaiians making the violence of such an optic visible through the medium of visual art.


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