Kyle Kajihiro, Faculty, Department of Ethnic Studies, UH Mānoa

Kyle Kajihiro

Assistant Professor
Office: George Hall 305
Telephone: 1 (808) 956-3484


As a yonsei (fourth-generation Japanese in Hawaiʻi), I am keenly aware of Hawaiʻi’s complex and ever-changing ethnic, racial, gender, and class dynamics, as well as our islands’ complicated relationship to the United States and the wider Pacific region. I grew up and currently live in Mōʻiliʻili, once a thriving Kanaka ʻŌiwi agricultural landscape, later a center of the Japanese community, and now a multi-ethnic urban neighborhood undergoing dramatic changes. I typically teach courses focusing on Japanese and Okinawan experiences in Hawaiʻi, Asian American history, ethnic identity, social movements, settler and Indigenous solidarity, and critiques of U.S. militarism and imperialism. I encourage students to apply their creativity and critical thinking skills to address contemporary problems of social and environmental justice.


  • PhD, Geography, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, 2020
  • MA, Geography, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, 2014 
  • BS, Art, Lewis and Clark College, 1985


My research focuses on U.S. imperial formations, militarization, and Indigenous and decolonial social movements in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region. My Master’s thesis critically examined how the historical transformation of Ke Awalau o Puʻuloa into “Pearl Harbor” provided a fulcrum for the pivot of U.S. imperialism into the Pacific. My dissertation analyzes how the Kanaka ʻŌiwi movement to protect the island of Kahoʻolawe from destructive military training helped to spark the contemporary Hawaiian cultural and political resurgence. Future projects include critically examining the complicated relationship between U.S. wars and militarism on the one hand and the fraught political and economic ascendency of Japanese and Okinawan settlers in Hawaiʻi on the other.

Community Engagement

Prior to entering graduate school, I worked with various community and labor organizations engaged in organizing for social, economic, and environmental justice. My current community engagement focuses on groups that counter the negative social and environmental impacts of the military in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region, including Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice, Mālama Mākua, Oʻahu Water Protectors, and Hui Aloha ʻĀina. My work also engages with numerous kīpuka aloha ʻāina (spaces and communities of environmental care and autonomy) across the Hawaiian islands.