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Aloha America

Winner, 2013 Best First Book in Women's, Gender, and/or Sexuality History by the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Winner, 2013 Lawrence W. Levine Award, Organization of American Historians Winner, 2013 Congress on Research in Dance Outstanding Publication Award Aloha America reveals the role of hula in legitimating U.S. imperial ambitions in Hawai'i. Hula performers began touring throughout the continental United States and Europe in the late nineteenth century. These "hula circuits" introduced hula, and Hawaiians, to U.S. audiences, establishing an "imagined intimacy," a powerful fantasy that enabled Americans to possess their colony physically and symbolically. Meanwhile, in the early years of American imperialism in the Pacific, touring hula performers incorporated veiled critiques of U.S. expansionism into their productions.At vaudeville theaters, international expositions, commercial nightclubs, and military bases, Hawaiian women acted as ambassadors of aloha, enabling Americans to imagine Hawai'i as feminine and benign, and the relation between colonizer and colonized as mutually desired. By the 1930s, Hawaiian culture, particularly its music and hula, had enormous promotional value. In the 1940s, thousands of U.S. soldiers and military personnel in Hawai'i were entertained by hula performances, many of which were filmed by military photographers. Yet, as Adria L. Imada shows, Hawaiians also used hula as a means of cultural survival and countercolonial political praxis. In Aloha America, Imada focuses on the years between the 1890s and the 1960s, examining little-known performances and films before turning to the present-day reappropriation of hula by the Hawaiian self-determination movement.
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Reveals the role of hula in legitimating U.S. imperial ambitions in Hawai'i

Table of Contents

Note on Language ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction. Aloha America 1 1. Lady Jane at the Boathouse: The Intercultural World of Hula 29 2. Modern Desires and Counter-Colonial Tactics: Gender, Performance, and the Erotics of Empire 59 3. Impresarios on the Midway: World's Fairs and Colonial Politics 103 4. "Hula Queens" and "Cinderella": Imagined Intimacy in the Empire 153 5. The Troupes Meet the Troops: Imperial Hospitality and Military Photography in the Pacific Theater 213 Epilogue. New Hula Movements 255 Chronology. Hawai'i Exhibits at International Expositions, 1894-1915 269 Abbreviations of Collections, Libraries, and Archives 271 Notes 273 Glossary 337 Bibliography 339 Index 357

About the Author

Adria L. Imada is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine.


"Fascinating photographs of the dancers - with careful commentary on poses and dress - illuminate the mannerisms and views of the performers. Strictly academic language may turn off casual readers, but Imada's dissertation will benefit those working in ethnic studies or greatly invested in Hawaiian culture." Publishers Weekly, June 4th 2012 "Attentive to global forces of U.S. Imperialism and to the agency of discrete cultural producers, Adria L. Imada conceives of Hawaiian hula as constitutive of colonial relations involving collaboration and resistance. Moreover and significantly, 'hula circuits' outside of Hawaii, she suggests, sustained Hawaiian culture (and hence nationhood) even as they transformed it - an astute and provocative contention." Gary Y. Okihiro, author of Island World: A History of Hawai'i and the United States "In Aloha America, Adria L. Imada shows how U.S. Elites used a blend of tropicalism and orientalism to facilitate U.S. Domination over Hawai'i. By foregrounding the eroticized bodies of Hawaiian women hula dancers, these elites created what Imada calls an 'imagined intimacy' between the U.S. Public and the subjugated Hawaiians. The sexualized images of Hawaiian women helped to occlude resistance to U.S. Imperialism in the Pacific and to make Hawai'i suitable for statehood by shifting Americans' attention away from its large Asian immigrant population. At the same time, hula served as a countercolonial archive of collective Hawaiian memory, preserving pre-conquest histories, epistemologies, and ontologies." George Lipsitz, author of How Racism Takes Place

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