Historical monuments in Hawaii: from colonial narratives to multicultural testaments

Authors: Henry Lawrence*, Edinboro Univ of Pennsylvania
Topics: Cultural Geography, Historical Geography, Pacific Islands
Keywords: Landscape, culture, history, monuments
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM
Room: Studio 6, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Hawaii offers a unique perspective on the debate over historical monuments in the U.S. History in Hawaii has seen successive waves of understanding of the past and its diverse monuments and memorials reflect these changes. At the time of the U.S. Civil War, Hawaii was an independent kingdom off in the Pacific Ocean. But from 1893 to 1959, it came under the control of white-American businessmen and the U.S. government, successively as an independent Republic, a U.S. Territory, and the 50th U.S. state. The earliest monuments were sites and objects important to the native Hawaiian people, often memorialized in oral literature. With white contact (Captain Cook, 1778, New England protestant missionaries, 1820) came written history but usually from a white perspective. The first new historical monuments began to appear in the early 20th century and mostly glorified the missionaries and white businessmen who transformed Hawaii into a colonial society. With U.S. control also came the tourist industry which began to use native Hawaiian history for commercial purposes. By the 1960s Hawaii had a mix of monuments and memorials that collectively told a story of quaint pre-contact society yielding to productive and heroic American leadership. In the 1970s this began to change with the Hawaiian Renaissance of native Hawaiian culture and simultaneously the public recognition of the role of different Asian ethnic groups in Hawaii’s diverse society. And, yes, there is a memorial in Hawaii to the U.S. Civil War.

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