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About Braided Waters

“In his new and extensively researched history of Hawai’i’s often marginalized yet fought-over ‘middle island,’ Wade Graham opens a window to ‘a place of remarkable endurance, resistance, and cultural resilience.’ Graham skillfully demonstrates how control over water has been at the center of Molokai’s ecological, economic, social, and political history both in the precontact Polynesian period and in the even more dramatic changes of the past two centuries. The story of Molokai is, moreover, the larger story of the Hawaiian Islands. Graham’s book deserves to be read by anyone with an interest in Hawaiian and Polynesian history.”

—Patrick V. Kirch, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

Braided Waters sheds new light on the relationship between environment and society by charting the history of Hawaii’s Molokai Island over a thousand-year period of repeated settlement. From the arrival of the first Polynesians to contact with eighteenth-century European explorers and traders to our present era, this study shows how the control of resources—especially water—in a fragile, highly variable environment has had profound effects on the history of Hawaii. Wade Graham examines the ways environmental variation repeatedly shapes human social and economic structures and how, in turn, man-made environmental degradation influences and reshapes societies. A key finding of this study is how deep structures of place interact with distinct cultural patterns across different societies to produce similar social and environmental outcomes, in both the Polynesian and modern eras—a case of historical isomorphism with profound implications for global environmental history.

"Now Hawaii has found its environmental historian in Wade Graham, an exceptionally talented writer and scholar.... His book is rich in theory and insight, and it should stand for a long time as an exceptional piece of history—a provocative tale of evolution.”

—Donald Worster, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Kansas

Braided Waters: Environment and Society in Molokai, Hawaii

Wade Graham
University of California Press

280 pp. 6 x 9 Illus: 12 bw figures, 4 maps

9780520298590 December 2018