Tourism settler colonialism: Matthew Y. Yasuoka, Hawaiʻi/Hawaii: Alterity, Space, and the Economy of Knowledge, MA dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2021


Abstract: This thesis is an inexhaustive study of the creation of an economy of knowledge surrounding Hawaiʻi. Through settler imaginings a new psychic place coalesced around the fantasies of colonists. This place Hawaii is distinguishable from Hawaiʻi by the absence of the okina. The analysis begins at the end of the Nineteenth Century when settlers began to articulate a new future for Hawaii. These imaginings sought to reshape the landscape and population of Hawaiʻi into the easily distributable and consumable commodity of Hawaii. This process serves to render alterity manageable, consumable, and amicable to settlers. By drawing on the work of Georges Bataille, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean Baudrillard, I analyze the exhibitions created by the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce to market Hawaii to the global stage at various international expositions. At around the same time, settler anxieties about US annexation raised questions about the future of Hawaii. In imagining what Hawaii could be, settlers sought to realize the creation of a new place within this economy of knowledge. The thesis then turns its attention to the middle of the 20th Century as air travel produced an influx of visitors. Analyzing the advertisements of Hawaii placed in newspapers and postcards, I deconstruct the ways settler fantasies shaped and articulated the desire to become tourists in Hawaii. By drawing on Baudrillard and Heidegger, I discuss how these images sought to produce a distanceless world that allows for the production of the hyperreality that settler colonialism requires. The final chapter analyzes the film Lilo & Stitch. I analyze the film through the lens of settler futurity. I argue that this children’s film serves to reproduce the fantasy of perfect Natives who are the end point of genocide. It serves to perfect the settler fantasy of the civilizing project.

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