Politics & Political Theory

A broken heart and fear of the bulldozer: Organized abandonment and living with abandon in Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i faces a crisis of homelessness due to the high cost of housing across the islands. Many without formal housing establish interdependent communities unsanctioned by property regimes and refer to themselves as “houseless” because intimate relations with place and expansive practices of care provide an adequate home. Attending to the experiences of Hawai‘i’s houseless, I unpack the meanings and practices of organized abandonment while proposing that some face structural neglect by “living with abandon.” I argue that the rupturing of life-giving relations entwined with particular places serve as a foundation of organized abandonment. Devolution, state retrenchment, the intensification of land use for revenue-oriented development, and a punitive carceral state layer upon this foundational rupture to propel the continual abandonment of shared resources. This enables the ongoing circulation of capital through the environment. In response, people live with abandon by rejecting, or holding an ambivalent relationship with, aspirations to thrive within capitalism. Living with abandon is a form of creative improvisation that cultivates connections in the face of broken relations, yet remains defined by uncertainty and heartbreak. It both invokes the fullness of time and space and mourns the losses that have produced the tenuous present.

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Volume 41 Issue 3

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