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Beyond EthnicityNew Politics of Race in Hawai'i$
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Camilla Fojas, Rudy P. Guevarra, and Nitasha Tamar Sharma

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780824869885

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824869885.001.0001

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Mixed-Race Hollywood, Hawaiian Style

Mixed-Race Hollywood, Hawaiian Style

(p.48) Chapter 2 Mixed-Race Hollywood, Hawaiian Style
Beyond Ethnicity

Camilla Fojas

University of Hawai'i Press

In classical Hollywood films set in Hawai‘i, Native Hawaiians are often depicted as part of the landscape and as a backdrop for stories of Anglo visitor romance. After statehood, many of these stories thematize intimacies of Native Hawaiian and haole to depict the incorporation of the islands to the continental U.S. By the “multicultural” 1990s, Anglo and Native Hawaiian contact in popular culture is depicted as fraught and inflected with many of the political quandaries related to Native Hawaiian rights and sovereignty issues. And Hollywood shaped continental attitudes not only about “race” on the islands but how complex political questions might be addressed. Storylines about Native and haole—non-Native, foreign, or white—intimacies are understood through “mixed race” narratives and a history of mixed race relations on the continent. These stories work through and shape social attitudes about the political and cultural relationship of the islands to the continent, that is, rather than representing a harmonious and utopic racial future, Hawai‘i is seen as entrenched in the mainland’s racial past. And this past is abstracted from local contexts. In these films, remedies for racialized inequities derive entirely from a mainland politics of race.

Keywords:   mixed-race, popular culture, Hollywood, racial politics, Native-Haole, multicultural

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