Spring 2004 Speaker Series
All presentations are free and open to the public

Time: 12 pm
Place: East-West Center, Burns 2118

Dates:

Jan 21: Houston Wood, English, HPU
"Something Nasty Down Below: Cultural Studies for Specific Places"

Abstract
Stuart Hall once said, "“I’m trying to return the project of cultural studies from the clean air of meaning and textuality and theory to the something nasty down below.”  This longed for return to the nasty is still much needed for, while materially cultural studies is a spectacular success, as a practical and political project, cultural studies seems an equally spectacular failure.  This talk examines how adopting a place-based perspective might transform cultural studies into a much more effective or, at least, dirty intellectual practice.


Jan 28: Wimal Dissanayake, Cultural Studies, University of Hong Kong and UHM
"Raymond Williams and Cultural Studies"

Abstract
As a domain of inquiry, a mind-set, a critical orientation, a strategic intellectual practice, Cultural Studies, during the past two decades or so, has made rapid progress.  It has aggressively expanded its scope and range of interests, invading other long-established fields of study.  As a consequence, today, Cultural Studies has, in many ways, become the victim of its own success.  Indeed, it is a discipline in search of an identifiable terrain.  The objective of this talk is to explore the intellectual legacy of Raymond Williams (1921-1988) as a way of thinking through some of the important issues related to the growth of Cultural Studies.
Raymond Williams was a professor of literature, a cultural historian, a media critic, a novelist, a dramatist and a political activist.  His views on culture have had a profound impact on the formation of Cultural Studies.  Some of his concepts such as ‘structure of feeling’ and ‘flow’ have become a part of the vocabulary of contemporary cultural criticism. Terry Eagleton once described him as ‘the single most important critic of postwar Britain.’ Williams’ interest in ‘analysis of all forms of signification within the actual means and conditions of their production’ has a deep relevance to the agendas of Cultural Studies. This talk will focus on the strengths and limitations of Raymond Williams as a pioneer of Cultural Studies.

 

Feb. 4: Hokulani Aikau, American Studies, University of Minnesota
"The Invention of Religion in the Formation of a Chosen People in a Promised Land"

Abstract
When scholars of Hawaiian history and native Hawaiian activists write about Hawai’i’s history, the term ‘missionaries’ is used as short hand to describe one of the many colonial actors in the drama of U.S. imperialism in Hawai’i.  Recent scholarship in Native Hawaiian Studies traces the history and continued legacy of the role these missionaries played in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the imprisonment of its sovereign leader, Queen Lili’uokalani.  In 1850, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church as it is more recognizably known, dispatched missionaries from their headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah to Hawai'i where they hoped to preach the gospel of the Church to the haole living there. Within in two years of their arrival, they changed the focus of their mission from preaching to the haole toward the Hawaiians.  What facilitated this shift in focus? What were the larger political implications of this shift?  How does attention to the religious underpinnings of missionary work in Hawai’i among native Hawaiians advance critiques of U.S. imperialism in the islands?  I argue that the invention of religion, the idea that religion is an apolitical and personal essence outside of time and history, is central to the omission of the religious underpinnings of the national drama of U.S. manifest destiny that Protestant missionaries played out.  Additionally, it identifies a critical ambivalence recorded in LDS church history in Hawai’i.  It is in this bracketing of religion as outside of politics and thus beyond the fray of imperialism that situates native Hawaiians, specifically, and Polynesians more generally as a chosen people within the larger cosmology of the Church.  As outside of history and thus time, Lä’ie, Hawai’i, the site venerated as a promised land for the gathering of Pacific Islander Saints, can simultaneously be seen as both a site of native Hawaiian authenticity and as a the physical manifestation of LDS prophecy.  By reading politics back into the history of the Mormon civilizing mission in Hawai’i, I will explore how Mormonism, as invented through the conversion of native Hawaiians to the gospel, can be a political tool of U.S. imperialism while simultaneously be seen as a means toward cultural preservation.

 

Feb. 11: Jon Okamura, Ethnic Studies, UHM & Chris Yano, Anthropology UHM
"Past Repast: Nostalgia and Japanese American Foodways in Hawai`i"

Abstract
Okazuya (delicatessens) are part of a dying breed of family-owned businesses, originated and sustained by first and second generation Japanese Americans, that are now in the hands of their third and fourth generation descendants who must operate within dramatically altered circumstances, including the economic and cultural globalization and urbanization of Hawai'i. We contend that a major factor in the financial survival of okazuya is the nostalgia that customers (and the media) find in them. The nostalgia of okazuya lies in the ordinariness of its invocation, calling forth a simpler era in Hawai'i distinguished by a slower pace of life in working class settings and a tightly knit web of interpersonal relations beginning with the family and extending to friends.

 

Feb. 25: Markus Wessendorf, Theatre, UHM
"Mahagonny and the Tourist Gaze"

Abstract
The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1928), after The Threepenny Opera the second major music-theatre collaboration between playwright Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill, is usually interpreted as a Marxist critique of consumerist society and the commercialization of leisure activities under capitalism. What this approach tends to overlook, even though it is already partially implied by it, is the opera’s reflection on the basic modalities of modern tourism. Based on John Urry’s sociological study of The Tourist Gaze it can be demonstrated that the two stages of (tourist) development of the city of Mahagonny in Brecht’s libretto not only correspond to Urry’s two major types of tourist consumption—i.e., the “romantic” and the “collective tourist gaze”—but also that Mahagonny as a fictitious leisure paradise represents in condensed form the history of European mass tourism since the mid-19th century. The presentation will further analyze the construction and implied critique of the tourist gaze in The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny by relating Brecht/Weill’s opera to Brecht’s critique of a “culinary aesthetic”; to the implied ethnic and political connotations of the word “Mahagonny” (which is a pun on “Mahagoni” = mahogany); and to actual tourist destinations such as Las Vegas and Hawai’i.

 

Mar. 3: Candace Fujikane, English UHM
"Foregrounding Native Nationalisms: A Critique of Anti-Nationalist
Sentiment in Asian American and Cultural Studies"

Abstract
This talk outlines the ethical imperative for Asian American critics and other non-Native cultural studies critics in the United States to foreground Native nationalisms in Asian American and cultural studies by examining their roles as settlers in a colonial nation-state. It interrogates the anti-nationalist sentiment in Asian American Studies that has grown out of critiques of racist American nationalism and a masculinist and heteronormative Asian American cultural nationalism.  Although Asian Americanists argue that we are beyond "claiming America," such anti-nationalist sentiment ends up opposing indigenous nationalist struggles in the U.S. in ways that stake its own settler claim, now in the poststructuralist form of an "egalitarian non-belonging" that elides the contemporary struggles of Native peoples. Through a critique of her own work and the recent work of Arjun Appadurai and Kandice Chuh, Fujikane argues that as settlers, we must hold ourselves accountable for the ways our settler scholarship undermines Native struggles for self-determination.

Apr. 7: Karen Kosasa, American Studies, UHM
"Sleights of Hand: Art Pedagogy, Spatial Representations, and
Colonialism in Hawai'i."

Abstract
The manipulation and representation of space is a crucial feature of a work of art, whether a drawing, painting, photograph, sculpture, digital or video image, or mixed media installation.  This paper will examine art pedagogy—the teaching and learning of Euro-American art practices—with the production of settler colonialism.  While it will focus attention on drawing (still considered by many art instructors to be a “foundational” learning experience), within a specific location, Hawai‘i, there are numerous implications for art pedagogy in the United States and other settler nations.  This study will link the work of Henri Lefebvre on spatial representations and Antonio Gramsci on ideology and hegemony, with the concerns of indigenous scholars Haunani-Kay Trask and Linda Tuhiwai Smith on the production of colonial knowledge, and national educators on critical pedagogy.
While many non-Native settlers support Hawaiian sovereignty initiatives, and hence, indirectly acknowledge the existence of colonialism in Hawai‘i, most of us are reluctant to examine our participation in the latter.  This presentation will demonstrate how art pedagogy entangles settler teachers and students in the erasure of Native spaces and the creation of settler visions, in the name of art and artistic expression.  It will explain how students are taught to view the world according to the rules of different visual schema, selectively plotting or imaging the existence of certain phenomena while ignoring others.  It will argue that the resulting images must be scrutinized against the larger social context in which the work is generated and not only from the usual “formal” or art historical points of view.  Lastly, this presentation will briefly mention curricular attempts to intervene in the pedagogical problems mentioned above.

 

*** CANCELLED AS OF 3/31/04 ***
Apr. 14: Peter Hoffenberg, History, UHM
"The Ethics of Memory?" Historical Reflections on Remembering and
Forgetting"

Abstract
Avishai Margalit asks a rarely heard series of questions in "The Ethics of Memory" (Harvard University Press, 2002): Are we obligated to remember people and events from the past? If we are, what is the nature of such an obligation? Are there things we should forget for equally if not more compelling ethical reasons? Today's paper will introduce such issues in the contexts of the recent interest among historians in collective memory and, more specifically, the contemporary wave of writings about the German memory of the Second World War. What contributions might Margalit's suggestive book make to historical studies of the past and of the uses of that past? Rather than a research presentation, this session will be an opportunity to pose, discuss and consider the applications for our own projects of memory.

 

Apr. 21: Ty P. Kawika Tengan, Ethnic Studies and Anthropology, UHM
TBA

Abstract