The Colonization of Hawaii and Tourism

analytical Essay
4432 words
4432 words

The Colonization of Hawaii and Tourism

Since 1840 the Hawaiian Islands have been an escape to a tropical paradise for millions of tourists. People all over the world encounter alluring, romanticized pictures of Hawai'i's lush, tropical vegetation, exotic animals, beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, and fantastical women. This is the Hawai'i tourists know. This is the Hawai’i they visit. However, this Hawai'i is a state of mind, a corporate-produced image existing on the surface. More precisely, it is an aftermath of relentless colonization of the islands' native inhabitants by the United States. These native Hawaiians experience a completely different Hawai'i from the paradise tourists enjoy. No one makes this as clear as Haunani-Kay Trask, a native Hawaiian author. In her book, From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i and through her poetry in Light in the Crevice Never Seen, Trask provides an intimate account of the tourist industry's impact on native Hawaiian culture. She presents a negative perspective of the violence, pollution, commercial development, and cultural exploitation produced by the tourist industry. Trask unveils the cruel reality of suffering and struggling through a native Hawaiian discourse. Most of the world is unaware of this.

To examine various discourses, it is crucial that the idea of discourse and the way in which discourses operate is clear. A discourse is a language, or more precisely, a way of representation and expression. These "ways of talking, thinking, or representing a particular subject or topic produce meaningful knowledge about the subject" (Hall 205). Therefore, the importance of discourses lies in this "meaningful knowledge," which reflects a group’s ideolo...

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...e" (Trask xix). This incident beautifully illustrates and signifies tourism's impact in American society. Like most Americans, this woman uses a discourse that has been shaped by tourist advertisements and souvenirs. The woman's statement implies that Trask resembles what the tourist industry projects, as if this image created Hawaiian culture. As Trask asserts, Hawaiian culture existed long before tourism and has been exploited by tourism in the form of advertisements and items such as postcards. Along with the violence, endangered environment, and poverty, this exploitation is what the tourist industry does not want to show. However, this is the Hawai'i Haunani-Kay Trask lives in everyday. "This is Hawai'i, once the most fragile and precious of sacred places, now transformed by the American behemoth into a dying land. Only a whispering spirit remains" (Trask 19).

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how haunani-kay trask provides an intimate account of the tourist industry's impact on native hawaiian culture.
  • Explains the importance of discourses in a post-colonial setting, such as hawai'i, as they influence social practices and have real consequences and effects.
  • Explains how the native hawaiian discourse of tourism began with the emergence of the "haole", or white settler.
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