- Waikïkï: A History of Forgetting and Remembering
In Waikïkï: A History of Forgetting and Remembering, Andrea Feeser (author) and Gaye Chan (artist and designer) dig deep into the many layers of Waikïkï's history to reveal its extreme transformation from a site that once sustained Native Hawaiian communities and a diverse array of animal and plant wildlife, to a place that has been systematically commercialized and converted into "a paved-over and polluted urban resort" (124). Notably, the book constitutes an outgrowth of the Historic Waikïkï project, a political and social activist enterprise that seeks to examine and critique the impact of the colonial project, capitalist enterprise, and tourism in Hawai'i (see http://www.downwindproductions.com/about_us.html). Importantly, Feeser and Chan actively subvert the popular myth of Waikïkï as a playground for leisure and pleasure seekers and instead reveal it as a site fraught with tension.
Waikïkï focuses on nine locations in the Waikïkï area—Lë'ahi (Diamond Head), the Ala Wai, Kälia, Kawehewehe, Helumoa, Uluniu, Kaluaokau, and Käneloa and Kapua. Each location constitutes a chapter that weaves together "the many stories that thread through Waikïkï's past and present" (8), thus enabling a more complex and nuanced reading of the place and the people whose lives have been woven into the fabric of Waikïkï's distant and more recent history. The authors' choice of each location is strategic in that all are associated with the three natural springs that once provided fluid sustenance to the land and its inhabitants—springs that are deeply connected to the meaning of Waikïkï's name: "Place of Spouting Waters." In a unique and creative way, Feeser and Chan use the springs—'Apuakëhau, Pi'inaio, and Ku'ekaunahi—as a salient metaphor for both the land's and the people's suffering and resilience in the wake of colonial imposition. The authors argue that although the flow of the springs has been impeded as a result of the development process, the fact that they periodically resurface through subterranean channels serves as a signal "that Waikïkï's people and places . . . have not been destroyed" (87).
As Feeser and Chan reclaim the memory of Waikïkï's forgotten history through written and visual texts—a history that has in the recent past been submerged under concrete, steel, and tourist advertising—readers are challenged to reconsider their own role in the construction and deconstruction [End Page 187] of Waikïkï and other places where tourism has taken root. The authors note that on critically reflecting on Waikïkï's past and present, readers will gain a deeper awareness of their "relationships to the places and people that make up [their] holiday destinations" (8) as well as come to appreciate and understand the myriad complexities that frame Waikïkï's history. Importantly, although Feeser and Chan draw critical attention to the destructive impact of capitalism and colonialism on the lives of Native Hawaiians and the environment, they also unveil a narrative of indigenous resistance and agency in the face of dramatic and traumatic change.
The theme of indigenous agency is a common thread in Waikïkï. While Feeser and Chan provide an informative and poignant overview of the devastating impact of colonialism on Native Hawaiians through disease, dispossession of lands, and the systematic denigration of indigenous cultural practices and beliefs, the authors are nevertheless mindful of the many ways in which Native Hawaiians actively fought against (and, indeed, continue to fight against) foreign impositions. For instance, in the chapter titled "Hamo hamo," Feeser and Chan consider the role of women—specifcally Queen Lili'uokalani, her niece Ka'iulani, and the women of Hui Aloha 'Äina—in the battle against "power-hungry American businessmen and politicians" during the late nineteenth century (103). As the authors point out, these women worked hard to save their lands and people by...