Warfare State in the Pacific: Hawaiʻi and Martial Law during the Second World War

Sunday, January 7, 2018: 11:40 AM
Maryland Suite C (Marriott Wardman Park)
Daniel Immerwahr, Northwestern University
The Second World War is understood as a time in the United States when citizens accepted a dramatically enlarged role for the government in their lives. This was true especially in Hawai‘i, the territory that brought the United States into the war. In his address to Congress, Roosevelt stressed that “American lives” had been lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor. But whether Hawai‘i residents were “American” or not was, in fact, an open question. That question remained relevant as Hawai‘i endured a harshly repressive regime of martial law until 1944, which the Supreme Court later judged to be illegal. This paper explores the tense questions of race, loyalty, empire, and national identity that emerged in wartime Hawai‘i. As such, it seeks to contribute to our understanding of state-building during the Second World War and also to a growing body of scholarship on the U.S. overseas empire.