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 historical past. It introduces the concept that of ‘American Pacificism’, a theoretical framework that attracts on modern theories of friendship, hospitality and tourism to refigure validated debates round ‘orientalism’ for an Oceanian context.
Paul Lyons explores American-Islander family 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 visible as fiscal and geopolitical ‘stepping stones’, instead of results in themselves, while at the different they're considered as ends of the earth or ‘cultural limits’, unencumbered by way of notions of sin, antitheses to the commercial worlds of financial and political modernity. in spite of the fact that, either conceptions vague not just Islander cultures, but additionally leading edge responses to incursion. The islands as an alternative emerge on the subject of American nationwide identification, as locations for medical discovery, soul-saving and civilizing missions, manhood-testing event, nuclear trying out and eroticized furloughs among maritime paintings and warfare.
Ranging from first touch and the colonial archive via to postcolonialism and worldwide tourism, this thought-provoking quantity attracts upon a large, lucrative choice of literary works, historic and cultural scholarship, govt records and vacationer literature.
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Additional resources for American Pacificism Oceania in the U.S. Imagination (Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures)
S. ’ Hawaii the 50th state could change all this. (quoted in Klein 2003: 251) Such liberal racism vis-à-vis Oceanians is characteristic of Michener, the selfdescribed “cultural geographer” of Asia and the Pacific during the Cold War period (Grobel 1999: 168), who, as journalist, pundit, advisor to the State Department and various corporations, and bestselling author, exercised enormous influence. While a career-long social progressive and anti-racist, Michener habitually dispels any notion of indigenous rights in promoting East–West relations.
The “South Pacific,” he concluded in Return to Paradise, “has become the meeting ground for Asia and America. . There is only one sensible way to think of the Pacific Ocean today. It is the highway between Asia and America” (Michener 1951: 436). : 45). Michener perpetuated this in the image of Bali Ha‘i, a gauzy version of Bora-Bora (where soldiers maneuvered not to be sent home), although Bali Ha‘i was the name of a “most miserable Melanesian village” in the Solomon Islands that Michener described as “filthy, unpleasant” (Michener 1992a: 91).
Views of Oceania have had iconic public advocates – from John Ledyard to Matthew Perry to James Michener, often acting through knowledge-producing institutions, from government-sponsored expeditions to museums and think-tanks, such as the East–West Center, established during the Kennedy era for theorists and planners of the Asia-Pacific region. Knowledge production backs commercial, patriotic aspiration. S. commercially to Asia, offered his narrative of Pacific travel to the public. Replete as it was with liberal philosophical asides about Islanders, his account was presented “as essentially usefull to America in general but particularly to the northern States by opening a most valuable trade across the north Pacific Ocean to China & the east Indies” (Ledyard 1963: xlv).