The scientific, philosophical, and political efforts to police the distinction between human and animal—amalgamated processes that Giorgio Agamben has called “the anthropological machine”—have been significant components of neocolonial governance in Hawai`i. In this essay, we trace the changing sovereign and exceptional strategies used by the state of Hawai`i to subordinate Kanaka Maoli, the indigenous peoples of the islands, through violence against and scientific regulation of animals. These disparate strategies converge in their consequences for making Kanaka Maoli useful to the state's legitimacy and authority to the detriment of indigenous cultural, economic, and political autonomy. In the interests of this autonomy and against the anthropological machine, we break from Western political theory to suggest that an investment in the Kanaka ontological concept of kino lau, which we translate as “having many bodies, human and nonhuman,” provides an exciting alternative perspective on the relationships of human and nonhuman animals. We show how the study of kino lau can offer practical resistance to the subordinating imperatives of neocolonial legality.

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