Emily May Hough


Since the early nineteenth century, United States colonialism has transformed the Hawaiian Islands from an independent sovereign nation into an American controlled state. In Hawai’i, colonialism is largely represented through the appropriation of culture, people, and land for the benefit of the tourist industry, in addition to the control of land for military use and urban development. In this study, the ways in which the United States has exploited Hawaiian culture, people, and land and the resulting opposition against it is analysed, to demonstrate the effects of colonialism on Hawai'i and the ways Hawaiian people adapted to resist it. This is accomplished through the use of three different primary source sets: the first is television, in which Hawai'i is either sold to audiences as a paradisal destination full of welcoming locals or shown to be in need of Westernisation through the presentation of culture as primitive. The second source set is the recently created Kokua Hawai'i Oral History Project, which features interviews from members of the activist group Kokua Hawai'i who protested against the eviction of Kalama Valley in 1971. These interviews help to build a picture of the protests and the group, exploring themes such as motivations behind their activism, schooling, and socio-economic background, and are a hitherto unused primary source. Thirdly, music used to protest against the eviction of Kalama Valley and the military occupation of Kaho’olawe is used to show how activists used elements of culture which were suppressed or appropriated by the United States as a tool of protest. This is accomplished through a lyrical analysis of the songs, which follow themes of aloha ‘āina and kuleana. As relatively unused sources, this will create a new contribution to existing scholarship, alongside showing the detrimental effect of colonialism on Hawai'i and the efforts to resist it.

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