Kerry Inglis’s presentation, titled “The Journey into Exile,” will examine letters and articles that patients and their loved ones wrote to Hawaiian-language newspapers and to the kingdom’s Board of Health in the mid to late 1800s. In these writings one finds profound expressions of the experience of living with leprosy, being separated from loved ones, living in banishment, surviving, dying, and forming a new community together.
Inglis is an associate professor of history at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, where she teaches courses in Pacific and Hawaiian history, specializing in disease and medicine in the nineteenth century. She is the author of Ma‘i Lepera: Disease and Displacement in Nineteenth-Century Hawaii, published by the University of Hawai‘i Press in 2012. The book is a social history of the Hansen’s disease outbreak of 1865–1900 almost exclusively from the perspective of “patients,” 90 percent of whom were Native Hawaiian. Based on both traditional and nontraditional sources, published and unpublished, it tells the story of the disease, society’s reaction to it, and the consequences of the experience for Hawai‘i and its people.
Anwei Skinsnes Law’s presentation, “An Expectation of Justice,” will look at the people of Kalaupapa, who have refused to have their participation and contributions to society limited by policies that sought to separate them. Her research has uncovered stories and activities of individuals such as J.N. Loe, Jonathan Napela, Ephraim Kanoe, Josiah Haole, Judge J.P. Miau, John Kamanu, and D.W.K. Kaopuiki.
Law is the international coordinator of IDEA, the largest international human rights advocacy organization by and for individuals who have experienced leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. She has been visiting Kalaupapa for the last forty-five years and has conducted many oral history interviews. Her book Kalaupapa, A Collective Memory, published by the University of Hawai‘i Press in 2021, presents the story of Kalaupapa as told by its people. The book combines more than two hundred hours of interviews with archival documents, including more than three hundred letters and petitions written by the earliest residents translated from Hawaiian. It was long assumed that those sent to Kalaupapa were unconcerned with the world they were forced to leave behind. This work shows, on the contrary, that residents remained actively interested and involved in life beyond Kalaupapa.
Copies of Inglis’s and Law’s books will be available at the program, as will copies of a number of other recent books about Hawai‘i’s history, offered at discounted prices.
This program is supported by a grant from the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities. It is co-sponsored with the Center for Biographical Research, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. The program is free and Open to the public. Paid parking is available on the University campus for $6.00. For further information about the program, call the Society office at (808) 537-6271.