David Chang


University of Minnesota 


David Chang is McKnight Distinguished University Professor of History and chair of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. Chang specializes in the histories of Indigenous people in North America and the Pacific (especially Hawaiʻi) in the nineteenth and twentieth century. This was a time of tremendous migration of ideas and people in the Pacific in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and indigenous people were part of this process. In his research and writing, Chang strives to be as transnational as the people who he studies. He is the author of two books, most recently The World and All the Things upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (Minnesota: 2016).

“The King, the Emperor, the Republic and the Nation: Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Intimacy in a Honolulu Insurrection, 1889”

This paper reflects on the ways that nationalist ideas circulated among Hawaiʻi, China, Europe, and North America in the late nineteenth century, and argues for the surprisingly cosmopolitan nature of these circuits. The paper takes as its starting point an insurrection in 1889 that is generally referred to as the Wilcox Rebellion. Historians usually interpret it as the effort by one group of Native Hawaiians to force the king of Hawaiʻi to renounce a constitution that white business interests had forced him to sign. This is not wrong, but it is too narrow. If we look more closely, we can perceive that the politics at play were both more intensely local and more expansively global: they reveal both the quotidian ties of Native Hawaiians to Chinese and the engagement of each with nationalist movements on a global level. This rebellion opens up a close examination of nationalist politics in late nineteenth century Hawaiʻi that demonstrates the paradoxical cosmopolitanism of nationalism in the period. It sheds light on cosmopolitan nationalist circuits that crossed the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the boundaries of multiple empires. Through this story, we can see the cross-fertilization of European, Chinese, Native Hawaiian, and American nationalism.

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