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Disrupting the 'melting pot': racial discourse in Hawai'i and the naturalization of haole

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This article analyses two dominant discourses of racial politics in Hawai'i and the work they do naturalizing haole (white people or whiteness in Hawai'i) in the islands. The first is the well-worn discourse of racial harmony representing Hawai'i as an idyllic racial paradise with no conflict or inequality. Frequently contrasting the islands with the 'racist mainland', this discourse circulates among many communities and is widely referenced. There is also a competing discourse of discrimination against non-locals which contends that haoles and non-local people of colour are disrespected and treated unfairly in Hawai'i. As negative referents for each other, these discourses work to reinforce one another and are historically linked. I suggest that the question of racial politics be reframed towards consideration of the processes of racialization themselves - towards a new way of thinking about racial politics in Hawai'i that breaks free of the not racist/racist dyad.
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Keywords: Hawai'i; colonization; discrimination; race; racial discourse; whiteness

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2008

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