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The Contemporary Pacific 14.2 (2002) 482-484

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Public Policy and Globalization in Hawai'i

Public Policy and Globalization in Hawai'i. Special issue of Social Process in Hawai'i (40), guest-edited by Ibrahim G Aoudé. Honolulu: Department of Sociology, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 2001.ISBN0-8248-2492-X; xxvii + 240 pages, tables, figures, appendixes, bibliography. US$17.00.

The initial question posed by guest editor Ibrahim Aoudé in the introductory essay in Public Policy and Globalization in Hawai'i is at once challenging and compromising. He asks, "What public policies should Hawai'i devise for it to at least derive some benefits from globalization?" (xii). The question is challenging in the sense that public policy toward globalization is particularly vexing from the perspective of a place such as Hawai'i that has become so dependent on external resources. It is compromising in the inevitability implicit in the trade-off, "to at least derive some benefits from globalization" (emphasis added). In spite of the fact that this question has been asked so many times before, why is it so difficult to answer—or swallow? What makes this current brand of globalization, that is, the transnationalization of capital and production amid a worldwide system of multinational corporations and ever-present US hegemony, all that different or new from what we've experienced before? Can the promises of the so-called "New Economy" offer any real hope to the people of a geographically remote place such as Hawai'i? Are there new lessons to be learned that may be of relevance to other island [End Page 482] communities? In this collection of nine provocative essays and three appendices, there are, no doubt, some useful, albeit, painful accounts of globalization's romp through these islands. Yet finding real benefits to many people, especially to indigenous populations, local communities, and those who have either a critical perspective or a conscience, may be a fruitless search.

Public Policy and Globalization in Hawai'i presents different ways of viewing globalization's impact on Hawai'i. Several of the authors (Li'ana Petranek, JohnWiteck, Jim Brewer) take a broad perspective, attempting to relate developments in Hawai'i to the US mainland and sketching the historical evolution of the "roots of dependency" (38). While the authors make reference to the colonialism of the late 1800s and the emergence of a plantation economy, most of the analysis deals with more recent events—the emergence of mass tourism, the alignment with corporate globalism (77), Reaganism, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization—and with Hawai'i's own litany of neoliberal responses, including the Konno decision on privatization, the Cayetano administration's Economic Revitalization Task Force, and other manifestations of the new economic order in Hawai'i. Although there's not much new in terms of the big picture analysis, the details and the local, ground-level commentary is worthwhile reading. And it is always nice to hear from other voices.

These "other" authors offer up views of both globalization's toll on society and the ways in which various communities and institutions in Hawai'i have responded. Robert H Stauffer leads us through a painful, blow-by-blow account of how the University of Hawai'i has become ever more linked to the global system of capitalism, and also how local elites and the Democratic party machine have used the university as a place for patronage jobs and as a "piggy bank" for financing its operations.IraRohter, a political science professor, writes not just about how residents were able to stop the Oji Paper Ltd. land deal but also about other troubled projects (Puna Geothermal, Ka'u Spaceport, and a prison on the Big Island). He links these developments to a broader, more progressive social agenda in Hawai'i. Rohter, Jon Matsuoka, and Luciano Minerbi write from the perspective of the local community, the voices of resistance. Matsuoka, a social work professor, describes the changes to have occurred on Lana'i, a small, rural, plantation island, following the development of two world-class...


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