On settler colonial militarism: Juliet Nebolon, ‘”Life Given Straight from the Heart”: Settler Militarism, Biopolitics, and Public Health in Hawai‘i during World War II’, American Quarterly, 69, 1, 2017, pp. 23-45

05Apr17

Abstract: This essay analyzes the interconnected regimes of US settler colonialism and militarization in Hawai‘i by examining the expansion of public health programs under martial law during World War II. I explore the biopolitics of wartime public health programs that targeted health and hygiene practices as a means of military surveillance, territorial organization, and population control. The mandatory immunization program vaccinated individuals in order to maintain an uncontaminated military base in Hawai‘i and produce able “Americanized” bodies that could contribute to the US military project. The Honolulu Blood Bank collected donations from these bodies as supplements to military strength and promoted blood donation through racialized tropes of patriotism and loyalty. I explore how the US military government employed a provisional wartime “racial liberalism” in Hawai‘i in order to incorporate all peoples in these programs regardless of race, yet these projects simultaneously intensified the classification and regulation of racially differentiated groups and erased Hawaiian indigeneity. As Hawai‘i became a biopolitical center of the Pacific War, the coercive conditions of martial law and wartime racial discourse compelled all peoples in Hawai‘i to cultivate biological health, only to then surrender it for the extraction of biomedical resources—all in the name of military security.



%d bloggers like this: