Modern Language Association of America has announced that it would be awarding David A. Chang (Ph.D. 2002) with its third MLA Prize for Studies in Native American Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. David Chang is a professor of history at University of Minnesota, and his research focuses on indigenous peoples, colonialism, as well as borders and migration in Hawaii and North America. He will receive the MLA Prize for his second book, The World and All the Things Upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration, which “speaks to a foundational imperative in Indigenous studies: the need to not just understand indigenous peoples from their own perspectives, but to understand the world from their perspectives as well.”
“It traces the ways that Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) explored the outside world and generated understandings of their place in it in the century and half after James Cook stumbled on their islands in 1778. In doing so, this book examines indigenous people as the active agents of global exploration, rather than the passive objects of that exploration, broadening our understanding of geographical knowledge production and power in the context of colonialism.”
The MLA prize is awarded for an outstanding scholarly study of Native American literature, culture, or languages written by a member of the association. Chang’s book draws heavily on Hawaiian-language primary sources, which include stories, songs, chants, texts, and political prose.
The book has previously received the American Historical Association’s Albert J. Beveridge Award, for the best book in English on the history of the United States, Latin America, or Canada from 1492 to the present. It has also received the Western History Association’s John C. Ewers Award for the best book in North American Indian Ethnohistory, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association’s Best Second Book Prize.