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A Chosen People, a Promised Land

A Chosen People, a Promised Land: Mormonism and Race in Hawai’i

Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    A Chosen People, a Promised Land
    Book Description:

    A Chosen People, a Promised Land explores how Native Hawaiian members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints negotiate their place in this quintessentially American religion. Using the words of Native Hawaiian Latter-Day Saints to illuminate the intersections of race, colonization, and religion, this book examines Polynesian Mormon faith and identity within a larger political context of self-determination.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8013-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction: Negotiating Faithfulness
    (pp. 1-30)

    Hawaiianness and Mormonism came to be fused through a religious invention initiated by the Mormon missionary George Q. Cannon who had a vision in 1851 that traced Polynesian lineage toThe Book of Mormonand to Israel. This articulation expanded the racial and religious boundaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS church) at a time when those boundaries were being codified and constrained. A central question of this book concerns the fusion of Hawaiianness and Mormonism.¹ Once they were fused, what was the impact of this articulation for Hawaiian and, later, Polynesian converts to the...

  5. 1 Mormonism, Race, and Lineage: The Making of a Chosen People
    (pp. 31-54)

    In the 1850s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, drawing upon dominant notions of race and worthiness, began to redraw the boundaries between those souls who they deemed chosen and those who were not. At that time the church reasoned that the social meanings of black skin marked sin and unworthiness. Such thinking might have positioned Polynesians as among the less desirable subjects of religious conversion, and yet in the history of Mormonism something quite the opposite happens. Instead of being seen as unworthy, Hawaiians are positioned as chosen peoples connected to Israelite lineage and thereby are desirable...

  6. 2 Lā‘ie, a Promised Land, and Pu‘uhonua: Spatial Struggles for Land and Identity
    (pp. 55-90)

    In 1865 the Mormon church purchased six thousand acres of the Lā‘ie ahupua‘a (a subsection of an island district that stretches pieshaped from the mountain to the sea) to provide Hawaiian Latter-day Saints with a gathering place in Hawai‘i where they could live among coreligionists. It also became a site where many Native Hawaiians could revive their cultural relationship to the land and the sea. Chapter 1 described the process by which Hawaiianness came to be articulated with Mormonism through an invention of Hawaiians as a chosen people. The designationchosenmarked Hawaiians as having, in the words of Tikva...

  7. 3 Called to Serve: Labor Missionary Work and Modernity
    (pp. 91-122)

    As I described in the previous chapter, the process of transforming Lā‘ie into a modern town was not without conflict and contradiction. The diminishing significance of the gathering principle corresponded to political and economic shifts taking place in the Mormon church as a whole. Between the 1890s and the 1930s, several policy changes initiated by mission presidents signaled a conscious move toward modernity and rationality. In this chapter I focus on the Labor Missionary Program, which provided the labor for the construction of the Church College of Hawai‘i in 1956 and the Polynesian Cultural Center in 1963. These institutions are...

  8. 4 In the Service of the Lord: Religion, Race, and the Polynesian Cultural Center
    (pp. 123-156)

    On May 7, 1964, Emosi Damuni followed his cousin Isireli Racule across the Pacific from Fiji to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Lā‘ie, Hawai‘i. Damuni and his wife Sereima resigned from their jobs—his as a teacher at the local school and hers as a nurse—and immigrated with their family. President Edward Clissold, one of the cofounders of the Polynesian Cultural Center, hired Damuni and Racule to be the cultural experts for the Fijian village. While on a brief trip to Fiji before returning to Hawai‘i from an extended scouting trip in the South Pacific, Clissold was put in...

  9. 5 Voyages of Faith: Contemporary Kanaka Maoli Struggles for Sustainable Self-Determination
    (pp. 157-184)

    In the previous chapter I documented the tensions that arose between members of the Polynesian Cultural Center management who approached culture as a material object for tourism and the Polynesian student workers who got more out of their jobs than just a paycheck. For some, working at the center provided them with a genuine opportunity to learn and develop an appreciation for their customs and practices while it also reinforced and strengthened their religious faith. In this chapter I return to the intersection of religious faith and cultural perpetuation by looking at the construction of a wa‘a kaulua (double-hulled canoe)...

  10. Conclusion: Holomua, Moving Forward
    (pp. 185-188)

    When I set off on the huaka‘i that became this book I wanted to make sense of how Polynesian members of the Mormon church negotiate what appeared to me to be an irreconcilable tension between a (politicized) ethnic identity and a Christian-American-Mormon affiliation. I began this book with my childhood memories of growing up Hawaiian and Mormon in a small Polynesian community in Utah. The personal stories I share reflect my complex and at times painful relationship to these two identities. That relationship, in turn, became the central aim of this book; namely, to examine how the religious norms, ideologies,...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 189-192)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 193-210)
  13. Glossary
    (pp. 211-214)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 215-222)
  15. Index
    (pp. 223-232)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-233)