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Imperial ArchipelagoRepresentation and Rule in the Insular Territories under U.S. Dominion after 1898$
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Lanny Thompson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834012

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834012.001.0001

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Islands of Women

Islands of Women

(p.45) Chapter 2 Islands of Women
Imperial Archipelago

Lanny Thompson

University of Hawai'i Press

During the nineteenth century, hegemonic discourses of civilization circulated widely, with the rhetoric of male supremacy a common trope. This chapter extends this discourse of civilization to the process of making an overseas empire at the turn of the century. The elements of gender, race, and evolution, which were constitutive of the general discourse of civilization, were also fundamental to the construction of the imperial archipelago. The chapter shows how the texts of the period used the feminine metaphor to paint a sympathetic picture of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Hawaii under U.S. dominion. The use of feminine representations provided an important justification for U.S. political and cultural hegemony. More than a simple justification, however, the descriptions of women would suggest certain paradigms that paralleled the particular strategies of rule in each site. In general, the native woman became an important rhetorical figure to elicit sympathy and desire. Yet each island “woman” had her own charms, her own story.

Keywords:   civilization, hegemonic discourse, overseas empire, imperial archipelago, native women, feminine images, feminine metaphor

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