I study the ongoing histories of U.S. settler colonialism. Through my own interrogations of what it has meant to be a haole (white settler) in Hawai‘i, I have learned from Indigenous feminists from Oceania who have contributed frameworks for analyzing race rooted in movements for deoccupation, demilitarization, and Indigenous sovereignty(Kauanui 2018; Trask 1999). Specifically, Aileen Moreton-Robinson (Goepul) (2015) and Maile Arvin (Kanaka Maoli) (2019) theorize whiteness as a possessive form of power. This framework departs from dominant understandings of whiteness as exclusionary or invisible.
My current book manuscript, Interlocking Erasures: U.S. Empire, Whiteness, and the Terraforming of Politics, argues that whiteness often operates as a mask for state and settler power.
Dr. Heidi Nicholls is sociologist of race and U.S. empire. She is a Black Beyond Data postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University and a Council on Library and Information Resources postdoctoral fellow.
Dr. Heidi Nicholls is sociologist of race and U.S. empire. Her current book project argues that settler colonists employed whiteness as a marker of loyalty to the empire during key periods of conquest of Hawai‘i and what is now Virginia. She received her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Virginia in 2022 and is a Black Beyond Data postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University and a Council on Library and Information Resources postdoctoral fellow.
Her recent publications can be found in Political Power and Social Theory and Sociology Compass. She is also the managing editor for the journal Humanity and Society.
Follow her on Twitter @HeidiCNicholls
Arvin, Maile Renee. 2019. Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawaii and Oceania. Duke University Press.
Bacon, J. M., and Matthew Norton. 2019. “Colonial America Today: U.S. Empire and the Political Status of Native American Nations.” Comparative Studies in Society & History 61(2). doi: 10.1017/S0010417519000069.
Go, Julian. 2017. “Myths of Nation and Empire: The Logic of America’s Liberal Empire-State.” Thesis Eleven 139(1):69–83.
Grove, Jairus Victor. 2019. Savage Ecology: War and Geopolitics at the End of the World. Durham, London: Duke University Press.
Jung, Moon‐Kie, and Yaejoon Kwon. 2013. “Theorizing the US Racial State: Sociology since Racial Formation.” Sociology Compass 7(11):927–40.
Kauanui, J. Kehaulani. 2018. Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism. Duke University Press.
McKay, Dwanna L., Kirsten Vinyeta, and Kari Marie Norgaard. 2020. “Theorizing Race and Settler Colonialism within US Sociology.” Sociology Compass 14(9):e12821.
Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. 2015. The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.
Scott, David. 2000. “The Re-Enchantment of Humanism: An Interview with Sylvia Wynter.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 4(2):118.
Trask, Haunani-Kay. 1999. From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’i. Rev. ed. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press,.
Uesugi, Kate. 2022. “Red Hill: The Fight for Clean Water in Hawai’i.” Humanist 82(2).
White, Alexandre IR. 2023. Epidemic Orientalism: Race, Capital, and the Governance of Infectious Disease. Stanford University Press.
Wynter, Sylvia. 2003. “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, after Man, Its Overrepresentation—An Argument.” CR: The New Centennial Review 3(3):257–337.