Tensing Temporalities: Theorizing Asian Settler Colonialism in a Decolonizing Hawai`i
18 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2010 Last revised: 8 Jun 2010
Date Written: March 31, 2010
The latest crises of 2008 extend a lull in economic exuberance that has lasted long enough to be the mood of an epoch. This paper takes up the temporal tenses of political feeling as a way of theorizing politics; how we imagine time has consequences for the interventions that our theories make. I attend to a new political imagination of the 'good old days,' postwar plantation Hawai`i, specifically. Pleasure and hardship are run together homeopathically in remembrances of an image of plantation community, but one that is encouraged not to stake its claims outside of itself. The insularity of this scene resonates with a mitigating sense of 'being in it together;' the affective 'core' of a community carried into a breathlessly anxious present. Surviving in the matter of memory, this core repeats what makes one's pleasure personal and self referential. Problematically, personalized access to plantation pasts can expunge the 'impersonality' of class relations and politics as something alienating to the intimate immediacy of memory. I argue that the problem is its crisis oriented now-time; a present so overwhelmed by capital's predations that all forms of struggle and resistance get absorbed into its orbit, even the ones that, historically, worked outside of rubrics of decolonization and worker's rights. My argument moves through three texts a flyer, a letter to the editor, and a conference panel kerfuffle.
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