Decolonizing Discourses of Tropicality: Militourism and Aloha ‘Āina in Kiana Davenport’s Novels
Keywords:Aloha ‘Āina, Hawaiian literature, militourism, tropicality, decolonizing discourses, postcolonial, Indigenous epistemology, Kānaka
This paper contextualizes Hawai‘i as a tropical landscape submerged under the discourse of exoticism which conceals the continuing American militarism, nuclearization, and tourist-oriented development in this archipelago. Militourism, as defined by Teresia Teaiwa, argues that the perpetuation of tourism based upon the imagination of tropical paradise conceals the continuation of colonial/neocolonial exploitation of the Hawaiian Islands. Under the discourse of tropicality, nature is instrumentalized, denying the agency and subjectivity of both the environment and Hawaiian indigene positioned as the Other. Kiana Davenport’s literary imagination of Hawai‘i contextualizes this locale as a postcolonial space, a site of conflict and contestation concerning discourses of nature. Her fictions decolonize colonial conceptions of nature by construing the Kānaka epistemology of aloha ‘āina which refigures nature as an active subject. It further posits the intertwined aspects of nature, place, and culture in Indigenous epistemology. Aloha ‘āina functions as a locus of Indigenous resistance interwoven with their political resistance, ongoing struggles for reclaiming ownership of land, and eventual sovereignty.
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