Special Issues

American Quarterly publishes one special issue per year each September.  Special issues are edited by the guest editors in collaboration with the AQ editors and the AQ Managing Board. They are comprised of a combination of essays that are solicited by the editors and essays that are submitted to a call for papers. Proposals are reviewed by the AQ Board, and the submission process is subject to a peer-review process. For more information on special issues and a look back at past special issues, please visit the Special Issues page.

Call for Papers 

2024 Special Issue: “We Are Not American” Still

Edited by Maile Arvin (University of Utah), Hiʻilei Julia Hobart (Yale University), Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada (University of Hawaiʻi), Brandy Nālani McDougall (University of Hawaiʻi), Lani Teves (University of Hawaiʻi)

On the night of July 3, 2021, a small group of activists made their way to the Hawaiʻi State Capitol, where they projected the words “WE ARE NOT AMERICAN” onto the large metal state seal hanging from the side of the building. The photo of the projection that they posted the next day on social media foregrounded the statue of Queen Liliʻuokalani, such that she appears to also be gazing at these words. Haunani-Kay Trask first proclaimed “We are not American” on January 17, 1993, the centennial of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, in a speech before more than twenty thousand people at ʻIolani Palace. Following four generations of intensive Americanization in Hawaiʻi, Trask’s speech had a profound and immediate impact, angering those who identified as American or feared repercussions against Hawaiian communities, while inspiring others who struggled under American colonialism to organize and become more politically and culturally engaged to work toward decolonization. 

Haunani-Kay Trask passed away on July 3, 2021, leaving all those who knew her and learned from her scholarship, poetry, and activism in grief. Her words, insight, and impact, however, remain with us in Hawaiʻi, with refusals of Americanness along with the insistence that Hawaiʻi is a sovereign nation, and thus separate and distinct from the US. Today, almost three decades after her speech, most if not all scholarship in Hawaiian studies frames Hawaiʻi as an illegally occupied and/or colonized country. Yet, outside Hawaiʻi, little attention has been paid to our refusals to identify as American, or to our questioning of the legitimacy of US claims to Hawaiʻi given its violations of international (and US domestic) law to annex Hawaiʻi as a territory. 

The special issue we propose seeks to give these issues greater visibility and analysis within the field of American studies and focuses, in part, on the enduring power of “We are not American” for Kānaka ʻŌiwi. In doing so, we are curious about what constitutes a “we,” when the lāhui is evoked toward emancipatory ends (and, by extension, the ways that coherence becomes used as a tool for the dismissal of Hawaiian sovereignty efforts). As such, the special issue would include essays that analyze how and why many refuse Americanness; challenge the legitimacy of US claims to Hawaiʻi; protect our lands, waters, communities, and culture against settler colonialism, tourism, and militarization; and create and foster projects of ea—the sovereignty, breath, rising, and life force of Hawaiʻi. We expect this work to draw from and engage Indigenous studies and settler colonial studies and their intersectionalities with various regional studies, feminisms, disability studies, queer studies, and Black, Pacific, Asian, and Latinx/Chicanx studies. 

 The issue will also examine how “We are not American” not only is a negating of Americanness but also operates as a transcendent affirmation of Hawaiianness based on all the things that we are—the citizenry of a pan-ethnic country, a lāhui founded on international alliances and diplomacy, one that continues to foster relationships with other peoples, other lāhui, built on solidarity, reciprocity, and the shared understanding of what it means to stand against the US. Again, the “we” of Kānaka Maoli is a complicated alliance: we have multiple, sometimes conflicting ideas about pursuing justice. Sometimes our “we” is “kākou,” the Hawaiian language word for an inclusive “we”; sometimes it is “mākou,” the Hawaiian language word for a more specific “we.” In turn, we wish to feature scholarship that acknowledges the trauma, work, and commitment that comes with such activism. Our solidarity with other peoples in decolonial and antiracist struggles is both inherent to, and an assertion of, our ongoing ea and refusal to be American. As such, beyond Kānaka ʻŌiwi, we would also welcome scholarship analyzing historical and contemporary solidarity movements within Hawaiʻi and those between Hawai’i and other nations and communities, as well as examinations of coalition building and how Kānaka ʻŌiwi have studied the movements of others in order to inform our own. We aim to foster a space that considers the ongoing relationships between Kānaka Maoli and other Pacific Islanders, relationships between Pacific islanders and Native Americans and other Indigenous nations, and between Kānaka and Black people on the US continent and across the Pacific. Similarly, we are reevaluating the frameworks of the nation-state that shift solidarities beyond the national and how diplomacy can be used to think through human and nonhuman relationships. 

Finally, this special issue will extend “We are not American” to suggest that “Maybe you aren’t American either.” By this we mean to invite other lāhui to critically reflect on how their own histories and present contexts place them beyond the confines of American nationalism in productive ways. For example, we will strive to include work that examines the “Americanness” and/or national “Hawaiianness” of the descendants of those who immigrated to Hawaiʻi and became citizens of the kingdom and other contemporary groups that, in allyship, identify with Hawai’i over the US or are otherwise influenced by discussions questioning the US’s claim to Hawaiʻi or hold an equal stake in questioning the legitimacy of the United States as a binding political space. What kinds of solidarities are possible when we make relationships based on our historic, present, and future visions of life unconstrained by America?

“Pacific Currents,” edited by Paul Lyons and Ty P. Kāwika Tengan, was the first special issue of AmericanQuarterly to emerge after the editorial transition to the University of Hawaiʻi. Our proposed special issue—as the final issue produced from the University of Hawai’i—focuses on the expansiveness of Hawaiian lands, waters, movements, and solidarities through our ongoing ea, a fitting closure for the journal’s tenure in Hawaiʻi.

Possible Topics

  • Oceanic connections and solidarities built with other Pacific Islanders
  • Solidarities with other communities of struggle under US colonialism and empire
  • Complicating and naming relationships of solidarity between Hawaiians and other nations/communities (local, national, or global)
  • Anti-Blackness and/or anti-Micronesian racism internalized within the lāhui, toward other communities as well as toward members of our own community
  • Discussions of Hawaiian national and/or political identity
  • Carework—Malama as cultural practice
  • Hawaiian disability under American colonialism and disability justice
  • Gender, Indigenous feminisms and masculinities
  • ʻĀina work and Indigenous ecologies
  • Connections between political and cultural movements
  • Projects of ea
  • Queer/māhū/māhui, challenging heteronormative discourses of ʻohana, wahine, kāne
  • How Oceanic indigeneity relates to, or is in conflict with, Oceanic immigrant identities 
  • Activism and performance/performativity
  • Hawaiian nationalism and the arts

Essays of up to ten thousand words are due August 1, 2023. Authors must address the guest editors and clearly indicate in a cover letter that the submission is intended for the 2024 special issue. Information about American Quarterly and submission guidelines can be found at