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Paradise Remade

Paradise Remade: The Politics of Culture and History in Hawai'i

Copyright Date: 1993
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Paradise Remade
    Book Description:

    This is a book about the politics of competing cultures and myths in a colonized nation. Elizabeth Buck considers the transformation of Hawaiian culture focusing on the indigenous population rather than on the colonizers. She describes how Hawaii's established religious, social, political, and economic relationships have changed in the past 200 years as a result of Western imperialism. Her account is particularly timely in light of the current Hawaiian demands for sovereignty 100 years after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.

    Buck examines the social transformation Hawaii from a complex hierarchical, oral society to an American state dominated by corporate tourism and its myths of paradise. She pays particular attention to the ways contemporary Hawaiians are challenging the use of their traditions as the basis for exoticized entertainment.

    Buck demonstrates that sacred chants andhulawere an integral part of Hawaiian social life; as the repository of the people's historical memory, chants andhulapractices played a vital role in maintaining the links between religious, political, and economic relationships. Tracing the ways in which Hawaiian culture has been variously suppressed and constructed by Western explorers, New England missionaries, the tourist industry, ethnomusicologists, and contemporary Hawaiians, Buck offers a fascinating "rereading" of Hawaiian history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0608-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Chapter One Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    The Kodak Hula Show has been entertaining tourists and selling Hawaiian culture for more than fifty years. The show, which is staged outdoors in a public park at the edge of Waikīkī, offers a discourse that frames Hawaiian culture for Western consumption, positioning Hawaiians and their music and dance as an exotic spectacle that can be captured on film and taken home. It is a reconstruction of Hawaiian history and culture that mystifies the past and obscures the history of Western domination of Hawai‘i and Hawaiian culture.

    The show opens with the introduction of “King Kali,” an imposing Hawaiian man...

  4. Chapter Two Thinking about Hawaiian History
    (pp. 19-30)

    With any history, we need to think backward, to imagine the past. But we necessarily think about the past within the ideological constructs of the present. It is difficult enough to understand our own histories; it is particularly difficult to grasp the historical experiences of non-Western cultures because we are not only constrained in our thinking by the present but by the historical experiences of the West and dominant interpretations of those experiences. In looking at Hawai‘i’s past, we are faced by the same problems that Marx encountered in trying to conceptualize social relations and institutions in societies in which...

  5. Chapter Three Hawai‘i before Contact with the West
    (pp. 31-56)

    I want to begin my structural analysis of Hawai‘i before Western contact for two reasons. The first is to be able to compare the islands before Cook’s arrival with what happened afterward so that the structural implications of capitalism can be better understood. The second is that I wish to avoid the dominant ethnocentric view of Pacific societies before Western contact as simple, primitive, and static, waiting, as it were, for the action to begin.

    Hawai‘i’s history of structural transformations is as dynamic, contradictory, and conflictual as any the West can offer. With the problematization of the liberal progressive view...

  6. Chapter Four Western Penetration and Structural Transformation
    (pp. 57-78)

    How well do Western social, political, and cultural theories speak to the historical and contemporary experiences of a complex “peripheral” society such as that of Hawai‘i? How well do they address the kinds of changes that resulted from the collision of societies of such unequal political, economic, and physical power? Marxist conceptualizations of modes of production and social transformations and poststructuralist theories of language, knowledge, and power are grounded in Western experience and Western metaphors of reality. Their application to the historical experiences of non-Western societies is therefore problematic.

    One view is that all Western theories are so thoroughly ethnocentric...

  7. Chapter Five Transformations in Ideological Representations: Chant and Hula
    (pp. 101-120)

    From Western perspectives, the extension of empire is usually seen as one aspect of broader Euro-centered historical transformations: the Renaissance and mercantilism, industrialization and trade, consolidation of and competition among European nation-states, and development of a capitalist-dominated world system. From the perspectives of the colonized, the arrival of the West has always been a moment of violence and rupture. Certainly there were fundamental differences in relationships of power from being an exporter of Western capitalism and culture and being an unwilling recipient. The violence generated by imperialism and colonialism—whether the violence of brute force or the more subtle violence...

  8. Chapter Six Transformations in Language and Power
    (pp. 121-162)

    Traditional histories of Hawai‘i have largely ignored language, generally treating it as one of many characteristics of culture (on the same level as food, clothing, farming practices, and the like) or as a tool of communication. But if one takes a constitutive view of language—as creative and re-creative, as practical consciousness that saturates and shapes all social activity—then the linguistic intrusion of the West is integral to every aspect of Western penetration and its subsequent domination of the islands.¹ Three fundamental changes in language were initiated in Hawai‘i as a result of contact with English-speaking Westerners. Along with...

  9. Chapter Seven Contending Representations of Hawaiian Culture
    (pp. 163-192)

    For more than twenty-five years, during the spring in the City of Hilo on the Big Island, practitioners and lovers of Hawaiian chant andhulahave gathered for the Merrie Monarch Festival. The three-day event holds great emotional and cultural significance for many Hawaiians, uniting performers and audience in the celebration ofhula. Thathulais a symbol of Hawaiian pride and identity is as evident in the controversies that erupt from time to time over the interpretations of ancient chants andhulaas it is in the execution of the dances. For many Hawaiians, but particularly for the participating...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 193-226)
  11. Glossary
    (pp. 227-230)
  12. Index
    (pp. 231-242)