Emalani Case is a Kanaka Maoli teacher, activist, and writer from Waimea, Hawaiʻi. Currently residing in Aotearoa (New Zealand), she is a Lecturer in Pacific Studies at Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington. Case’s research and work is deeply engaged in issues of Indigenous rights and representation, settler colonialism and decolonization, and environmental and social justice. It is also committed to studying stories, genealogies, and ancestral connections and obligations across Oceania.
Case is the author of the book Everything Ancient Was Once New: Indigenous Persistence from Hawaiʻi to Kahiki (2021), which explores Indigenous persistence through the concept of Kahiki, a term that is at once both an ancestral homeland for Kānaka Maoli (Hawaiians) and the knowledge that there is life to be found beyond Hawaiʻi’s shores. Kahiki is therefore both a symbol of ancestral connection and the potential that comes with remembering and acting upon that connection. Tracing physical, historical, intellectual, and spiritual journeys to and from Kahiki, Case frames it as a place of refuge and sanctuary, a place where ancient knowledge can constantly be made anew. In the book, Case engages with Kahiki as a shifting term employed by Kānaka Maoli to explain their lives and experiences at different points in history.
Originally from Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, Case grew up in a small town immersed in the stories and histories of her place. Coupled with her life-long training in hula, or Hawaiian chant and dance, she learned to see her world—or each landscape, seascape, and skyscape—as being ‘storied.’ Case’s work is therefore informed and inspired by Kanaka Maoli, Pacific, and Indigenous storytellers, intellectuals, activists, and artists (past and present) and is motivated by a desire to strengthen trans-Indigenous solidarities across the Pacific to work toward building better futures.
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Select Recent Work:
Case, Emalani, “Navigating Our Unfamiliar Seas: Cultivating New Connections in Changing Spaces,” Keynote Address, Centre for Pacific Island Studies Student Conference, 24 Mar, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKPdkKEBJt8
Case, Emalani. Everything Ancient Was Once New: Indigenous Persistence from Hawaiʻi to Kahiki. Indigenous Pacifics Series. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2021.
Case, Emalani. “Ea: Lessons in Breath, Life, and Sovereignty from Mauna Kea.” Biography. 43, 3 (2021): 568-574.
Case, Emalani. “Caught (and Brought) in the Currents: Narratives of Convergence, Destruction, and Creation at Kamilo Beach.” Journal of Transnational American Studies 10, 1 (2019): 73–92.
Case, Emalani. “I ka Piko: Resistance from the Mountain to the Sea.” The Journal of Pacific History. 54, 2 (2019): 166-181.