Title page for ETD etd-06052011-170855

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Ogden, Kirsten E.
Author's Email Address KirstenOgden@gmail.com
URN etd-06052011-170855
Title An Aloha State of Mind: Performing Hawaiian Cultural Identities
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Theatre
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wade, Leslie A. Committee Chair
Judy, George Committee Member
Peckham, Irvin Committee Member
Sosnowsky, Kristin Committee Member
Smith, Edward Dean's Representative
  • Homi K. Bhabha
  • kanaka maoli
  • multiracial comedy
  • living history
  • pageant play
  • hula
  • Liliuokalani
  • pidgin
  • Victoria Kneubuhl
  • Kumu Kahua Theatre
  • Local Hawaiian
Date of Defense 2011-05-19
Availability unrestricted
There are many Hawaiian identities currently in effect. This dissertation explores several representative and contested Hawaiian identities, and how these identities develop through key performances, plays, and other representational practices by Hawaiians and by Locals. Due to its unique situation as one of only two U.S. states formerly with its own government, and as one of only two U.S. states not connected to the main land-mass of the United States, Hawaiian identity is complicated by multiple factors: sanitized historical constructions, sovereignty, intermingling ethnic identities, tourism, and reclaimed cultural practices.

Additionally, Hawaiians as a native people hold a unique place in United States history. Unlike Native North Americans in the United States, Hawaiians have never received independent rights within statehood, nor have they been given large amounts of territorial land with which they might operate their own governments and communities. Further, unlike African Americans or other Asian American sub-groups, Hawaiians were not taken to the United States from their homeland and enslaved, nor did Hawaiians move from their homeland in search of the American dream. Hawaiians had their government removed from power by United States representatives, and have been under influence and protection of the United States since 1893.

Hawaiian identity today is a fluid and contested one with multifarious definitions, all of which lay claim to the Hawaiian label. In some contemporary representations, the goal is to expand historical understanding of the Hawaiian label; in others, the goal is to illustrate resistance towards Americanization or to affirm Hawaiian cultural practices. These representations open the possibility for negotiation and for reinscription of Hawaiian history and of Hawaiian identities. An examination of how this unique regional population negotiates its status both as insiders and as outsiders to American identity might offer important insights for theatre practitioners and scholars about the larger fabric of American nationhood, and about the roles that performance and other representational practices play in constructing and in further contesting a definitive “American” identity.

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