While nineteenth and twentieth-century tourist hula performers are often assumed to have been victims or beneficiaries of colonial capitalist development, this talk explores their unexpected relationship to Hawai‘i’s present-day self-determination movement. Professor Imada traces the origins of Native Hawaiian decolonization activism within tourist hula circuits that sustained cultural reproduction and political contestation during the past century of American colonization. Tourist dance practices, rather than being antithetical to decolonization, constitute an important archive and repertoire for Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) performers. Politically engaged readings of colonial and neocolonial performances suggest how hula survived colonial repression and is being reconstituted as a contemporary form of redress.

About the speaker: Adria L. Imada is Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her book, Aloha America: Hula Circuits through the U.S. Empire, about the relationship between U.S. imperial expansion and Hawaiian hula performance, was published by Duke University Press in 2012. Her dissertation on hula performance was awarded the Ralph Henry Gabriel prize for best dissertation from the American Studies Association in 2003.