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Meet Our Authors: Dr. Emalani Case

Meet Our Authors: Dr. Emalani Case
Meet Our Authors
Dr. Emalani Case 
Originally from Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, Emalani Case grew up in a small town immersed in the stories and histories of her place. Coupled with her life-long training in hula, or Hawaiian chant and dance, she thus learned to see her world—or each landscape, seascape, and skyscape—as being ‘storied.’ This fueled her passion for writing and studying literature, which eventually led to her BA and MA degrees in English; to her efforts to learn to speak, write, and translate ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian Language); and eventually, to her PhD work in Pacific Studies at Victoria University of Wellington where she continued to study stories, genealogies, and ancestral connections and obligations across Oceania. 

We are proud to carry Caseʻs first book entitled "Everything Ancient Was Once New: Indigenous Persistence from Hawaiʻi to Kahiki" published by UH press in 2021.

While she resides in always beautiful New Zealand, we asked her a few questions so you could get to know more about this Mana Wahine. 

Tell us what you’ve been working on during COVID.
Living in Aotearoa, my experiences of COVID have been quite different than those living at home. We have had cases here and have had to transition through various alert levels, which did impact our daily lives. However, for the most part, we’ve also been very fortunate to be able to continue working and gathering. Last year a group of us held a social movements conference here in Wellington. The theme was “Activating Collectivity: Aroha and Power.” It was beautifully powerful and inspiring, reminding us of the fierce aroha/aloha we are born with. We’re now working on a special issue of a journal called Counterfutures that will feature work and reflections from the conference, which I am excited about.

Who is the audience for your book?
My hope is that anyone interested in Indigenous realities, movements, issues, resistances, and futures will be able to find something in this book. Because I work in an interdisciplinary space—Pacific Studies sits at the intersection of so many disciplines—I’d like to think that the book isn’t, and won’t be, confined to a particular area of study. I’d also like to think that its audience will not be limited to those in academia. While it is an academic book in the sense that parts of it come from my PhD research, I tried to write it in a way that is accessible and that can speak to movements beyond the academy. I’d like everyone from my university colleagues to my family and friends at home to be able to pick it up and find something of interest, something heartfelt, or something hopeful in it.

Are there any books or literature that your work seeks to be in conversation with?
I definitely hope my book contributes to existing and emerging literature on colonialism and settler colonialism, on Indigenous resistance and persistence, on Kanaka Maoli concepts and understandings of place, on Pacific connections and genealogical responsibilities to the region, on cultural renaissance and growth, and on the necessity of hope.

Are there any titles or authors that we carry at Native Books or Nā Mea Hawaiʻi that have inspired your trajectory and scholarship? 
There are so many! I’ve, of course, been inspired by Kanaka Maoli intellectuals, people who wrote and recorded our stories and who’ve provided us with the motivation to do the same. There are too many to name, but people like Samuel Kamakau and Joseph Poepoe have always inspired me and have shown me the power of words.
Following the lead of these intellectual ancestors, I’ve also been inspired by Kanaka Maoli scholars who have, and who continue to, write and create space for us today. A few of them are Haunani Kay-Trask, Noenoe Silva, Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, David Chang, Kealani Cook, Kēhaulani Kauanui, Kapā Oliveira, Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada, Brandy Nālani McDougall, and David Maile.
I’ve also been quite inspired by some incredible Pacific and Indigenous scholars like Albert Wendt, Epeli Hauʻofa, Teresia Teaiwa, Moana Jackson, Alice Te Punga Somerville, Vince Diaz, Linda Tuhiwahi Smith, Craig Santos Perez, Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Tina Ngata, and Emelihter Kihleng.
There are so many more, but I think that’s a good list to start with.

What are you reading this summer?
Since I’m living in Aotearoa, we’re actually in the middle of winter. So, I’m looking for books that will keep me warm. I just recently picked up a copy of Patricia Grace’s new book of memoirs, From the Centre: A Writer’s Life. I’ve only just started it, but it’s been so nice to sit and snuggle into her stories.
Learn more about her book by visiting our site here!

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