Plantation Pasts, Plantation Futures: Resisting Zombie Water Infrastructures in Maui, Hawai'i

Kelly Kay, University of California, Los Angeles
Chris Knudson, University of Hawai'i
Alida Cantor, Portland State University


Sugar plantations have fundamentally shaped water use in Maui, Hawai’i for over 100 years, with tremendous resulting impacts on ecosystems and Native Hawaiian communities. In this paper, we build on literature on the plantationocene and the political lives of infrastructure to examine plantation irrigation infrastructure. We center Maui’s vast water conveyance ditch system as a means of understanding how infrastructure continues plantation logics into the present, considering both the physical ditches themselves as well as the laws and politics which support continued water extraction. We also consider infrastructural futures, highlighting ongoing efforts of communities seeking water justice via infrastructural control.