American Pacificism Oceania in the U.S. Imagination by Paul Lyons

By Paul Lyons

This provocative research and critique of yankee representations of Oceania and Oceanians from the 19th century to the current, argues that imperial fantasies have glossed over a posh, violent heritage. It introduces the idea that of ‘American Pacificism’, a theoretical framework that pulls on modern theories of friendship, hospitality and tourism to refigure validated debates round ‘orientalism’ for an Oceanian context.

Paul Lyons explores American-Islander kinfolk and lines the ways that primary conceptions of Oceania were entwined within the American mind's eye. at the one hand, the Pacific islands are obvious as financial and geopolitical ‘stepping stones’, instead of results in themselves, when at the different they're considered as ends of the earth or ‘cultural limits’, unencumbered by means of notions of sin, antitheses to the commercial worlds of monetary and political modernity. despite the fact that, either conceptions imprecise not just Islander cultures, but additionally leading edge responses to incursion. The islands as an alternative emerge with regards to American nationwide id, as areas for clinical discovery, soul-saving and civilizing missions, manhood-testing experience, nuclear checking out and eroticized furloughs among maritime paintings and warfare.

Ranging from first touch and the colonial archive via to postcolonialism and international tourism, this thought-provoking quantity attracts upon a large, lucrative choice of literary works, old and cultural scholarship, executive files and vacationer literature.

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The islands come up reflexively as limit cases in asides, as in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, where a character refers to New Orleans as so wicked it is “most equal to going to the Sandwich islands,” and a rearranged hat is described as giving a slave an air of “defiance, quite equal to that of any Fejee chief ” (Stowe 1981: 245, 100). Such references are continuous with the deforming and caricaturistic visual images of Islanders in texts such as Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872), or in political cartoons, such as the tattooed man series attacking presidential candidate James Blaine, in which the man’s political deeds are tattooed on his body, or cartoons that presented Lili‘uokalani as African American.

In the nineteenth century, as Pamela Cheek argues in her comparative study of the gendered dimension of Orientialisms in Oceania, nationalism is particularly bound up with constructions of masculinity: “one became not just a man, but an ‘American’ man, as opposed to a British, or French, or Oceanian subject” (Cheek 2003: 2; see also Nelson 1998). S. ” To invoke Judith Butler, such performances, in compulsive and compulsory ways, were not so much imitations of a coherent subject as attempts to constitute that subject through contradistinction (Butler 1993).

S. imagination, Olson argues, “The Pacific is . . the Plains repeated, a 20th century Great West. Melville understood the relation of the two geographies”; he understood that “America completes her West only on the coast of Asia” (Olson 1947: 13, 114, 117). ” Through such reading, Melville’s Tommo and Toby, lost in the Marquesas, become “‘pioneers,’ who hack their way through a forest of cane (as if Nukuheva were Kentucky), and encounter Niagras of waterfalls” (Fussell 1965: 236). In this spirit, Life magazine writer A.

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