Pacific Historical Review
Competing Imperialisms and Hawaiian Authority: The Cannonading of Lāāhaināā in 1827
Jennifer Fish Kashay


Current historical and anthropological scholarship asserts that narratives of events are not necessarily historical ““truths”” but interpretations made by writers who are socially and culturally situated. This article analyzes multiple perspectives, including those of sailors, merchants, Natives, and missionaries, to gain insight into the ways in which imperial power in the Sandwich Islands was cultivated, negotiated, and redeployed. In particular, the article focuses on the 1827 firing of cannon at American missionaries in Lāāhaināā, Māāui, by the British ship John Palmer in response to several Native Hawaiian women who boarded the ship to engage in sexual relations, and to the protest by a converted Native chief. This article argues that, although Native women's bodies had been commodified since Capt. James Cook's time, by the 1820s they served as sites of desire, contestation, and economic gain.

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