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ASA | 13 December 2013

University of Hawaii Ethnic Studies Department Supports BDS

Below is a letter from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa's Ethnic Studies Department announcing their support of academic boycotts of Israel.  This letter was first published on October 21, 2013 on the American Studies Association website in support of that association’s academic boycott resolution.  It is republished here by PACBI with the permission of the department.  It is the first department to officially and publicly state its support of the BDS movement.

On behalf of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (UHM), I write to give our department’s collective endorsement of the ASA resolution in support of the Academic Boycott.

Our department stands in solidarity with the call from Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli institutions in protest of the illegal occupation of Palestine, and the infringements of the right to education and academic freedom of Palestinian students and scholars in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.

The UHM Department of Ethnic Studies was founded in 1970, and, like others across the country, the department emerged in response to struggles within the United States and across the globe for decolonization. Our department focuses on race and ethnic relations, both in Hawai'i and the U.S., as well as comparative studies of groups around the world. We are committed to maintaining a research and teaching philosophy that emphasizes praxis: the application of intellectual theories to the complex problems in our local communities.

With our commitments to conjoining our research, teaching, and community work, and to taking a stand against imperial and colonial war and on behalf of human rights and academic freedoms, the ASA resolution is consonant with the work that we do. We stand, therefore, in favor of the resolution for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions, and voice our department’s support to lend our efforts to the self-determination and anti-colonial struggle of Palestinian civil society.

The history of Hawai'i is, of course, distinct from that of Palestine, and yet Native Hawaiians, too, live under conditions of colonization and occupation. In standing in solidarity with the USACBI movement, we recognize this as an opportunity to teach our students what it means to participate in a Boycott Movement, to educate them about conditions on the ground in Palestine, and to consider the profound differences as well as similarities between Palestine and other sites of settler colonialism, including Hawai'i.

In addition to taking a public stand on a resolution in support of global justice, democracy, and peace, we view the ASA resolution as a teaching opportunity. Each of us has committed to discussing with our students our decision to endorse this resolution, and to educating them about what it means to participate in a Boycott Movement.


Ty P. Kāwika Tengan
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Ethnic Studies 
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa


Posted on 27-12-2013

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