Themes:  Local Theory

Popular history locates the origin of the term "local" in Hawai'i with the Massie case of 1931/32. It was used in the press to distinguish between the Massies, a White military couple, and the alleged perpetrators of the attack on Mrs. Massie, a group of Japanese and Hawaiian boys. Subsequently, it referred generically to any non-White resident, born and raised in Hawai'i, and since most of the non-White residents of Hawai'i were plantation workers or their children, its class implications were obvious.

Honolulu Police

By the 1980s, local identity in Hawai'i began to marginalize other ethnic identities, especially among Asian Americans. In his article, "Why There are No Asian Americans in Hawai'i: The Continuing Significance of Local," Jonathan Okamura discusses the consolidation of local identity due to a series of external threats to the control economic, political, and social stability in Hawai'i - Japanese investment, the increasing population of tourists and the movement for Native Hawaiian sovereignty. These and other factors reveal a sense of local identity that is not solely premised on a common ethnic or racial background, but on the tensions between insiders and outsiders. If we reflect back on the Massie case with Okamura's insight, we see that local identity even then was not solely understood in terms of ethnicity but also in terms of this insider/outsider matrix. There are other significant treatments of local from a theoretical, historical or sociological points of view. Michael Haas has written extensively about the race and racism in Hawai'i and has several working papers as well books and edited volumes which explore local through discussions of race and race relations in Hawai'i. Haas edited Multicultural Hawai'i: The Fabric of a Multiethnic Society which contains a number of pieces that are descriptive as well as analytical as well as the entry about the Massie Trial for the Encyclopedia of Multiculturalism. Wayne Wooden's What Price Paradise attempts to model degrees of local based on relative closeness to in-group status. His follow up study Return to Paradise revisits many of the same questions. Eric Yamamoto's early work as an undergraduate at the University of Hawai'i is close to Wooden's theoretical perspective.

Prince Kuhio and Princess Kalanianaole at a Kaiulani School ceremony

Theories about what it means to be local have been discussed with greater frequency in the field of literature in Hawai'i. Bamboo Ridge, a forum for local fiction writing, has provided a site for an extended discussion of the contours of local culture, history, and identity as represented in the literary treatments of contemporary writers such as Darrell Lum, Rodney Morales, and Gary Pak. The recent controversy surrounding the body of literature produced by Lois-Ann Yamanaka has revived interest in literature as an important forum for the tensions and fissures in local culture. Brenda Kwon's "Beyond Ke'eaumoku" is a critical examination of the role of Koreans in local literature. She engages the question of Hawaiian sovereignty and the resistance of "local people" to fully support the movement. Rodney Morales has recently pondered the predominance of Asian Americans in local literature, questioning the appropriateness of representing Asian American literature of Hawai'i as entirely representative of Hawai'i.

Floral Parade 1910

The number of works and their prominence in local academic and popular press precludes extensive bibliographic coverage here beyond a few representative pieces. But students interested in a comprehensive look at the question of local as a source of cultural, political, ethnic, and racial identity will necessarily have to engage the debate in the field of local literature because the question is so little discussed elsewhere.

Adams, Romanzo. "Race Relations in Hawai'i." Social Process in Hawaii, May 1936, 56.

Borreca, Richard. "The Importance of Being Local." Honolulu, Sept. 1986, 34.

Chock, Eric and Darrell H.Y. Lum. The Best of Bamboo Ridge Quarterly. Honolulu: Bamboo Ridge Press, 1986.

Finney, Ben. "The Surfing Community: Contrasting Values Between the Local and California Surfers in Hawaii." Social Process in Hawaii, 1959, vol. 23, 73-76.

Fujikane, Candace. "Between Nationalism: Hawai'i's Local Nation and Its Troubled Paradise." Critical Mass: A Journal of Asian American Cultural Criticism, 1:2 (1994) 23-57.

Geschwender, James A. "The Hawaiian Transformation: Class, Submerged Nation, and National Minorities." Ascent and Decline in the World-System. Ed. Edward Friedman, Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1982, 189-225.

Grant, Glen and Dennis Ogawa. "Living Proof: Is Hawai'i the Answer?" ANNALS AAPSS 530 (November 1993) 137-154.

Haas, Michael. Ed. Multicultural Hawai'i: The Fabric of a Multiethnic Society. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1998.

_____________. "The Hawaiian Multicultural Ethos: What is it and How did it Develop?" Honolulu: Center for Research on Ethnic Relations, Social Science Research Institute Working Papers, 1992.

_____________. "The Ala Moana Incident" in The Encyclopedia of Multiculturalism, (1994) Vol. 1.

Kawaharada, Dennis. "Images of Local Culture." The Hawaii Herald, 20 May 1983, 1, 11, 15.

Kent, Noel J. "Myth of the Golden Men: Ethnic Elites and Dependent Development in the 50th State." Ethnicity and Nation Building in the Pacific. Ed. Michael K. Howard. Tokyo: United Nations University, 1989, 98-117.

Kwon, Brenda. Beyond Ke'eaumoku: Koreans, Nationalism, and Local Culture in Hawai'i. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1999.

Morales, Rodney. "Literature" in Multicultural Hawai'i: The Fabric of a Multiethnic Society. Ed. Michael Haas. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1998. 107-129.

Okamura, Jonathan Y. "Aloha Kanaka Me Ke Aloha Aina: Local Culture and Society in Hawaii." Amerasia, vol. 7, no. 2, 1980, 119-37.

_____________. "The Illusion of Paradise: Privileging Multiculturalism in Hawai'i." Making Majorities: Composing the Nation in Japan, China, Korea, Fiji, Malaysia, Turkey and the United States. Ed. D. C. Gladney. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.

_____________. "Why There are No Asian Americans in Hawai'i: The Continuing Significance of Local Identity." Social Process in Hawai'i, (1994) vol. 35, 161-78.

Robillard, Albert B. "Where is Social Change in Hawaii?: The Reyn's Aloha Shirt." Social Change in the Pacific Islands, Ed. Albert B. Robillard, New York: Kegan Paul, 1992, 372-467.

Rosa, John Chock. "'Local' in the Thirties: The Massie Case and Hawaii's Asian Pacific Americans." Paper presented at Association for Asian American Studies, Joint Regional Conference, Honolulu, Hawai'i, March 24-26, 1996.

Sumida, Steven. "Sense of Place, History, and the Concept of 'Local' in Hawaii's Asian/ Pacific American Literatures" in Reading the Literature of Asian America. Eds. Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Amy Ling. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992, 215-238.

Whitney, Scott. "Naming All the Beasts: Lois-Ann Talks Back." Honolulu, vol. 33, no. 6, 1 December 1998, 56.

Wilson, Rob. "Goodbye Paradise: Global/Localism, Hawai'i, and Cultural Production in the American Pacific." New Formations 24 (Winter 1994), 35-50.

Wooden, Wayne S. What Price Paradise?: Changing Social Patterns in Hawai'i. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1981.

Wooden, Wayne S. Return to Paradise: Continuity and Change in Hawai'i. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1995.

Yamamoto, Eric. "The Significance of Local." Social Process in Hawaii, (1979) vol. 27, 101-15.

Yamamoto, Eric. "From 'Japanee' to Local: Community Change and the Redefinition of Sansei Identity in Hawai'i." M.A. Thesis, University of Hawai'i, 1974.