Gary Y. Okihiro, born in Hawai‘i, is a visiting professor of American studies at Yale University, and professor emeritus of international and public affairs at Columbia University. He is author of twelve books, including his latest, Third World Studies: Theorizing Liberation. Before joining the panel at a Zócalo/Daniel K. Inouye Institute “Talk Story” event, titled “Does Hawai‘i Welcome Immigrants?” and held at Artistry Honolulu, he talked in the green room about Botswana, coqui frogs, and why he would have liked to have been a hunter-gatherer.
What’s the best place to eat in New Haven?
What do you miss most, other than family or friends, about California, where you lived and got your Ph.D. in African history?
Who was the last actor or actress who made you swoon?
I used to get into the Mickey Mouse Club, so Annette Funicello.
What person, living or dead, would you most want to have a drink with?
What’s the best book you’ve ever read about Hawai‘i?
That’s hard to say. But of all time, I’d say, David Malo’s Hawaiian Antiquities, written by Malo in the 19th century.
What’s your favorite song from Hawai’i?
What sound do you wake up to?
Coqui frogs. I live in Hilo, you know?
You wrote your thesis about Kgalagadi in the 19th century, in the Kalahari Desert that is now Botswana. Your title was, “Hunters, Herders, Cultivators, and Traders.” Which one would you have liked to have been?
I would like to have been a hunter-gatherer, because it requires immense skills, and knowledge of plants and animals, for survival.
What’s the most important thing for Americans to know about Hawai‘i’s history?
The takeover—the termination of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
You write about the Third World. If you could live anywhere in the Third World, where would you live?
It depends on how you define the Third World. Do you know Hawai‘i and Botswana are antipodes? And did you know that Okinawa is part of the third world? ... So I’d say Okinawa.