C Magazine


Issue 150

Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future: Kanaka Maoli and Critical Settler Cartographies in Hawai‘i — Candace Fujikane
by Zannah Mae Matson

In Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future (2021), Candace Fujikane attends to the abundant relations that connect Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) histories and place-based knowledges. These relations include the more-than-human actors who make up complex ecologies, as well as the land and water protectors who fight to defend their environment and ways of life. Capitalism relies on scarcity for its perpetuation; it therefore follows that attending to abundance is a decolonial act that refuses to succumb to the settler logics of capital. Fujikane’s text extends the possibilities for mapping well beyond Eurocentric cartographic practices, to consider resistance and abundance in the demise of capital. Although Mapping Abundance is most certainly an academic book—written by an academic and published by a university press—it reaches far beyond the confines of institutionalized knowledge to support and uplift Kanaka Maoli mobilization.

The book focuses on significant sites of land and water struggles in Hawai‘i that include: a proposed industrial development colloquially known as the Purple Spot, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the sacred mountain lands of Mauna a Wākea, and the US military’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. Fujikane critiques how settler-colonial maps have designated certain areas of Hawai‘i as wastelands, to justify further decimation by colonial industrial development. Mapping Abundance also centres arts-based and embodied ways of mapping that move beyond Eurocentric cartographic representations. Instead of the aerial view and subdividing logic of colonial maps and surveys, the sources in this volume extend understandings of mapping to encompass critical bus tours, perspectival maps of land and water connectivity across the ahupua‘a (traditional Kanaka Maoli systems of land division), and paintings that centre resistance and cultivation practices. By predominantly focusing on the decolonial work by Kanaka Maoli to both visually construct worlds that are beyond the logic of the occupying state as well as mobilize resistance to the advances of settler development, the book emphasizes the possibility for abundant and liberated futures.

For Fujikane, the word “map” is most powerful when used as a verb. Mapping Abundance draws from a wide archive to demonstrate how to map relations in a vibrant and productive way. In chapter three, “Mo‘oinanea’s Waterways on Mauna a Wākea: Beyond Settler Colonial Thresholds in the Wao Akua,” Fujikane shares how land and history are mapped together through stories that transcend the settler divisions between living and non-living. In this chapter, a community-painted mural further reinforces the ways that land can map genealogical memories, as the waters of the sacred mountain lands of Mauna a Wākea are depicted alongside ancestors Papahānaumoku and Wākea, their daughter Ho‘ohōkūkalani, her child Hāloa, and the kalo (taro) plant Hāloanakalaukapalili that grew from an unformed fetus of Ho‘ohōkūkalani. This mural is set in stark contrast to TMT documents that portray the land of the mountain as an empty space to be built upon. As the mural maps the genealogies of Kanaka Maoli, it reveals the relationships between people and this sacred mountain, reaffirming resistance to the TMT’s degradation of the site. In chapter two, “Maps in Motion: Mapping Wonder in Wai‘anae on Huaka‘i Aloha ‘Āina,” we are brought along on a bus tour that maps the land of Lualualei and the Wai‘anae Valley—the birthplace of Māui—that was threatened by the colonial logic of land developers. Mapping Abundance expands what it means to map, as well as what gets mapped, further challenging colonial mapping traditions.

The cartography of capital seeks to simplify and divide. Under this logic, the map and territory cannot exist in relation to each other on a one-to-one scale: the map must be abstracted, its complexity stratified into discrete layers of data. In contrast, the mapping that Fujikane focuses on calls attention to specific people and the legends told about them, restored cultivation practices, and the plants and waterways that connect sites to one another in tender webs. These deep and meaningful connections to context are integral to the ethos of mapping abundance, and fundamental to considerations of mapping as a potentially decolonial practice. In the article “Abstraction is a Privilege” (2021), scholar Fernando Luiz Lara writes that the abstraction of space has been mobilized as a tool of coloniality to delink sites from their complex networks of relationality. Instead of the abstracting impulses of cartography, Fujikane details the practices of kilo, or careful observation, that have long allowed Kanaka Maoli to respond to their environments and create life-sustaining systems connected to water and land. Kilo becomes ever more salient in the face of drastic climate change, where observing and responding to changes—and even predicting the world to come—are all essential life-sustaining practices.

Throughout the book, interconnected stories of resistance and solidarities are brought to the forefront. As land and water protectors stand with arms linked to protect Mauna a Wākea from colonial construction, their actions can be understood as entangled with those of the water protectors at Standing Rock, or the land defenders at 1492 Land Back Lane. These connections highlight the communities and possibilities that exist counter to settler colonialism. Mapping Abundance is a beautiful, thoughtful, and inspiring account of Kanaka Maoli sovereignty, offering glimpses of what can take root and flourish in interconnected sites of anti-colonial struggle across the world.