Decolonizing Discourses of Tropicality: Militourism and Aloha ‘Āina in Kiana Davenport’s Novels




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.

Author Biography

Kristiawan Indriyanto, Universitas Prima Indonesia

Kristiawan Indriyanto is a lecturer in Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, Universitas Prima Indonesia, Medan City, Sumatra, where he teaches English literature, critical theories and academic publication. His PhD in American Studies from Universitas Gadjah Mada (2021), explored the issue of ecological imperialism in Hawai‘i and literature from a postcolonial ecocriticism framework. His main research interests are analyzing Indigenous literature through a postcolonial ecocriticism perspective, primarily focusing on Native Hawaiian literature and the decolonizing discourses of Hawaiian indigene through the articulation of aloha ‘āina. His other interests lie in the emerging field of econarratology, mainly concerned with narrative voices and spatiality in literature. As an Indonesian author, this paper contributes toward cross dialogues of the tropics by presenting the perspective of Hawaiian indigenous people. For further research, I am interested in comparing literature from Indonesia and Hawaii on the discourse of tropicality and the continuation of neo-colonial exploitation of the environment.


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How to Cite

Indriyanto, K. (2023). Decolonizing Discourses of Tropicality: Militourism and Aloha ‘Āina in Kiana Davenport’s Novels. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 22(2), 82–103.