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Hawaiian Sojourns

Hawaiian Sojourns

(p.62) Chapter Three Hawaiian Sojourns
Becoming Mead
Daniel R. Huebner
University of Chicago Press

Chapter 3 investigates the wide-ranging significance of colonial Hawaii for George Herbert Mead. He became emotionally invested in Hawaii from his college days, as his closest personal relationships and most affecting personal losses were directly tied to those islands. By the time he first visited in 1897, Mead had been exposed to ardent talk and vivid images of the people and places, especially in relation to revolution and annexation. Over his thirteen long sojourns there, Mead was introduced firsthand to its pressing social issues by leading citizens, and became a participant in its public debates. He served on an official behalf for the Territory of Hawaii and explored its landscapes, all the while reflecting on the broader significance of its problems and placing them in dialogue with analogous issues elsewhere. In Hawaii, Mead occupied a peculiar role, as someone fundamentally dependent on personal guides, especially his wife Helen Castle Mead, for his participation in and understanding of the social landscape. This focus on Hawaii helps specify Mead's reform work and theorizing about democratic societies, and it provides an opportunity to reformulate the nature of “context” as an analytical concept

Keywords:   George Herbert Mead, Hawaii, colonialism, context, race relations, territorial annexation, democratic governance, industrialization, Helen Castle Mead, mountain climbing

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