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The Hawaiian Islands are commonly referenced as one of the most ecologically diverse locations on planet Earth, a fact commonly highlighted in conservation and natural ecosystem science. Yet, we often fail to take the next step in acknowledging and understanding the intensive cultural and knowledge-based adaptations of Native Hawaiians as they made use of highly diverse landscapes traversing multiple ecotones. The broad yet organized structure of the Hawaiian ecosystems coupled with the high degree of socio-political evolution in Hawai‘i make Hawai’i an ideal model system to explore the coevolution of a people and place.
This talk explores this coevolution through the lens of agriculture, as a fundamental way in which humans and their environments interact. The application of agroecological systems over time and across space are summarized, along with their manifestations on social, cultural, and knowledge systems. Throughout the seminar, the incorporation of Hawaiian epistemology attempts to communicate underlying cultural perspectives regarding the relationship between ‘āina (land) and kanaka (humans). We conclude by emphasizing the pathways of island cultures, which evolved under limited land bases and resources, have tremendous value to offer the world in terms of understanding the transition to sustainability for our “Island Earth.”