Ethnogenesis of the Hawaiian Ranching Community: An Historical Archaeology of Tradition, Transnationalism, and Pili
AuthorBarna, Benjamin Thomas
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Hawai`i's ranching community grew out of indigenous attempts to manage European livestock introduced by explorers and merchants in the late 1700s. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the ranch workforce became increasingly multiethnic with the inclusion of Asian contract laborers and their descendants. This dissertation examines the origins and development of the ranching community to understand the underlying social forces that encouraged the incorporation of immigrants into its ranks. Hawai`i has long been considered a "social laboratory" for studying interethnic relations, and models of assimilation, acculturation, and creolization have been used to describe its multicultural population, but these models inadequately characterize and explain Hawai`i's ranching community. Rather than apply these models uncritically to describe the community's ethnogenesis, this dissertation proposes that a metaphor derived from the Hawaiian concept of pili, roughly "connection" in English, provides a contextualized explanatory framework appropriate to its Hawaiian linguistic, geographic, and cultural origins. Pili describes the ethnogenesis of the ranching community as the formation and reinforcement of kin- and kin-like connections among existing community members and newcomers. Using documentary and archaeological evidence of a century of ranching at Laumai`a on Hawai`i Island, I frame this process as one informed by tensions between two modes of capitalism used on the ranch: on the one hand, an indigenized capitalism that included Hawaiian genealogical and social connections in its management strategies, and on the other, an EuroAmerican form that emphasized profit and efficiency over human connection. These strategies structured the negotiations of identity among ranch workers that transformed transnationals into community members who contributed to a hybrid culture that, paradoxically, remains uniquely Hawaiian.