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Legendary Hawai'i and the Politics of Place

Tradition, Translation, and Tourism

By Cristina Bacchilega

Publication Year: 2007

Hawaiian legends figure greatly in the image of tropical paradise that has come to represent Hawai'i in popular imagination. But what are we buying into when we read these stories as texts in English-language translations? This is the question that Cristina Bacchilega poses in her examination of how stories labeled as Hawaiian "legends" have been adapted to produce a legendary Hawai'i primarily for non-Hawaiian readers or other audiences.

With an understanding of tradition that foregrounds history and change, Bacchilega examines how, following the 1898 annexation of Hawai'i by the United States, the publication of Hawaiian legends in English delegitimized indigenous narratives and traditions and at the same time constructed them as representative of Hawaiian culture. Hawaiian mo'olelo were translated in popular and scholarly English-language publications to market a new cultural product: a space constructed primarily for Euro-Americans as something simultaneously exotic and primitive and beautiful and welcoming. To analyze this representation of Hawaiian traditions, place, and genre, Bacchilega focuses on translation across languages, cultures, and media; on photography, as the technology that contributed to the visual formation of a westernized image of Hawai'i; and on tourism as determining postannexation economic and ideological machinery.

In a book with interdisciplinary appeal, Bacchilega demonstrates both how the myth of legendary Hawai'i emerged and how this vision can be unmade and reimagined.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


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Title Page

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p. iii

Copyright Page

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p. iv

Table of Contents

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xii

This could have been, in someone else’s mind and hands, a much largerscale book, along the lines of Paul Lyons’s American Pacificism: Oceania in the U.S. Imagination (2005) or Vilsoni Hereniko and Rob Wilson’s collection Inside Out: Literature, Cultural Politics, and Identity in the New Pacific (1999)—projects I very much admire for their capacity to bring knowledge of so many different fields to bear on our understanding of Pacific...

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Chapter 1. Introduction

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pp. 1-28

This book focuses on the representation of Hawai‘i as a legendary space in modern and contemporary narratives that, via verbal and visual translation, have adapted Native Hawaiian traditional stories. This is not a book about Hawaiian legends. It is a study of how Hawaiian stories labeled as ‘‘legends’’ have been translated to produce a legendary Hawai‘i...

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Chapter 2. Hawai‘i’s Storied Places: Learning from Anne Kapulani Landgraf’s ‘‘Hawaiian View’’

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pp. 29-59

Anne Kapulani Landgraf’s 1994 book, Na Wahi Pana O Ko‘olau Poko: Legendary Places of Ko‘olau Poko, presents eighty-three black-and-white photographs of the southern windward district on the island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, that were first shown in loco at the beautiful Ho‘omaluhia Park in Ka ne‘ohe (see Figure 1).1 The photographs are displayed side by side...

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Chapter 3. The Production of Legendary Hawai‘i: Out of Place Stories I

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pp. 60-101

While the 1989 promotional video in the epigraph visually juxtaposes the Kahala Hilton’s modern comforts to otherwise seemingly uninhabited landscapes of Hawai‘i—‘‘Aloha! We invite you to step into a world of timeless elegance and luxury set in a land of lush, tropical beauty’’—it unself-consciously publicizes the resort (since then replaced by the...

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Chapter 4. Emma Nakuina’s Hawaii: Its People, Their Legends: Out of Place Stories II

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pp. 102-136

In her 1905 Paradise of the Pacific article ‘‘Give the Tourists More Variety,’’ Elinor A. Langton suggested that while ‘‘Climate and scenery are well enough for the visitor at first,’’ many tourists coming to Hawai‘i harbored the desire to get ‘‘an insight into the wild life of the Polynesians,’’ as an Oregon lady had told her (18.3:15). Just how to satisfy this desire...

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Chapter 5. Stories in Place: Dynamics of Translation and Re-Cognition

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pp. 137-167

Chapter 3 documented the turn-of-the-twentieth-century production of legendary Hawai‘i, one part of the period’s promotional English-language literature about Hawai‘i. Violently disrupting Hawaiian traditions of storytelling—mo‘olelo generally, but wahi pana specifically—to benefit non-Hawaiians primarily and to support ideologically the annexation of...


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pp. 169-201

Works Cited

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pp. 203-219


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pp. 221-227


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pp. 229-230

E-ISBN-13: 9780812201178
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812239751

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 34 illus.
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 759158207
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Legendary Hawai'i and the Politics of Place

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Oral tradition -- Hawaii -- History and criticism.
  • Hawaiians -- Folklore.
  • Heritage tourism -- Hawaii.
  • Public opinion -- Hawaii.
  • Hawaii -- Colonization.
  • Culture and tourism -- Hawaii.
  • Politics and culture -- Hawaii.
  • Legends -- Hawaii -- History and criticism.
  • Hawaii -- Folklore.
  • Hawaii -- Foreign public opinion.
  • Folk literature -- Hawaii -- History and criticism.
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