This lecture is part of the ongoing Intersection Speaker Series.
How did the Hawaiian Kingdom's government adopt capitalism as an official political economy in the 19th century? This talk contends that American political thought shaped the gradual institutionalization of capitalism in Hawai'i. Translating Francis Wayland's treatise Elements of Political Economy (1837), William Richards, an American missionary turned advisor, wrote and published No Ke Kalaiaina (1839) to teach ali'i of the Hawaiian Kingdom at their request about government, politics, and capital. The talk shows how American theories of so-called savage taxation drove a modern transformation in Hawaiian governance, political economy, and socio-ecological relations. Yet, Kānaka Maoli creatively diagnosed and challenged how capital greased the wheels of colonialism throughout the 19th century. The talk concludes by arguing that the Kānaka Maoli idea and practice of aloha 'āina was, and should be considered, both anti-capitalist and anti-colonial.