Man(g)a, Moʻolelo, and the Many Bodied Forms of Indigenous Comics


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




This project is an active series of experimentations to discover where the visual and pictorial language of comics and the layered storytelling experiences of Hawaiian moʻolelo– place-based storied histories– productively meld together and strengthen the formal qualities of one another. Through the interweaving of Indigenous approaches to sensory aesthetics, bioethnography, and medical humanities with the graphic form, this project culminates in a comic adaptation of “The True Story of Kaluaikoolau,” an early-twentieth century oral history of a Kanaka Maoli family’s resistance against the colonial provisional government’s forced separation of Hawaiians during the leprosy epidemic. The undertaking of this adaptation confronts the historiographical challenges of reproducing a storytelling landscape radically altered by settler colonialism (including the loss of language and environmental destruction) while simultaneously embracing the potential that graphic media provides in textually and visually representing Native Hawaiian relationship to health, disease, memory, trauma, and healing.