The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2021

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MARCH 2021 Issue
Field Notes

Trouble in Paradise

D. P. Dodd, <em>The Death of Captain James Cook, F. R. S. at Owhyhee in MDCCLXXIX</em>, 1784. Colourized version of Captain Cook's Voyage, Octavo Edition. Wikicommons.
D. P. Dodd, The Death of Captain James Cook, F. R. S. at Owhyhee in MDCCLXXIX, 1784. Colourized version of Captain Cook's Voyage, Octavo Edition. Wikicommons.

Cabin fever is consuming us. We’ve all gone a bit stir-crazy. Like many before the pandemic struck, I had plans, but they were dashed in February. Or was it March? The months dissolve into each other. I was supposed to touch down in “the Garden Island” on Hawaiian Airlines in mid-November, flying into Līhuʻe from Oakland International Airport. A Hawaiian November would have been quite unlike a San Franciscan autumn, when the Bay’s chill blankets the city and its coastline.

The five-and-a-half-hour flight over the Pacific would have reminded me why so much has to be imported to Hawai‘i. Ultramarine waters surround Hawai‘i for thousands of miles. To reach the nearest continent is to travel halfway around the world. Hawai‘i is nearly 2,500 miles from Los Angeles, more than 4,000 miles from Tokyo, and 4,700 miles from Brisbane. The word “isolated” comes to mind, but only because paradise is by definition peerless and solitary.

These days, Hawai‘i is more solitary than it has been for decades, maybe even centuries. The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented moment when travel has stagnated and mass tourism has ground to a halt. Train stations and airport terminals collect dust as citizens the world over hole up at home. Since March 2020, travel restrictions have enforced this solitude. Few are allowed in or out. In a small place1 like Hawai‘i, where visitors normally bustle, the absence of sun-blistered tourists was a momentary blessing—an ebb in the tidal wave of mass tourism—but it has also brought hardship: lost jobs, lost profits, and bankruptcy.

Tourism is a tricky business. Travel seems harmless to the uninitiated, but the consequences of over-tourism are well documented: pollution, gentrification, and stress on infrastructures. More conscious strains of “ecotourism” and “solidarity tourism” have sprung up in response to these excesses, but some of the more egregious affronts still take place, overwhelmingly in the Caribbean and Polynesia. Islands in particular seem to invite a curious set of characters who don’t like to play by the rules. Is it the ocean’s waves that beckon the wayward, or the fastidious cleaning crews who wipe down their every fingerprint?

As travel plummets to an all-time low, it feels appropriate to ask why we want to get away to the places we want to get away to. There’s no better time than now, in my mind anyway, to unpack some of the political baggage of tourism that popular travel writing tends to gloss over. Why do tourists flock to Hawai‘i, for instance? Amid the pandemic, the destination no longer sits in the spotlight; as countries board up, history comes first. What matters is the winding journey a mere place takes to become a vacation destination. Though I could not travel to Hawai‘i, I still wanted to know how the islands became a “tourist paradise” in the first place and what upkeep is required to keep them so inviting. The answers involve unraveling the Gordian knot tying tourism to colonialism and the US military.2


Had I landed in Līhuʻe, as I was originally supposed to, I would have ended up at the home of Mr. A, an old neighbor of mine who now lives in Kalāheo, Kaua‘i. I was to pick pineapple for him. Mr. A had twice offered me a job picking pineapple on his plantation, but twice I had to turn him down: the first time because applying to graduate school consumed all my free time, and this second time because the coronavirus pandemic made travel too risky.

Though I was stuck in California, I still had pineapple on my mind. When you eat pineapple, it bites back. The fruit contains a high concentration of bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down proteins with which it comes in contact. It’s almost carnivorous. Some chefs use pineapple in marinades to tenderize meat and impart a tangy flavor before barbequing. Others use the fruit as a garnish on summer salads or worse: pizza. Pineapple isn’t a lūʻau staple, but it has colonized the minds of mainlanders, as Hawaiians and others not living in the contiguous US call those who do. When most of us think about Hawai‘i, the scenery that comes to mind is overgrown with sharp pineapple fronds.

Similarly, though I wouldn’t be traveling to Hawai‘i, I couldn’t get the islands off my mind. I had just taken a leave of absence from my PhD program before the economy crashed amid the pandemic, and I had no substantial job opportunities. Harsh was the realization that writing doesn’t pay especially well. I felt stranded, marooned, so maybe it wasn’t all that surprising that islands were on my mind.

From the vantage point of atolls, islands, and cays, the globe looks off-kilter and for good reason. Island chains quite literally invert the way we think about the Earth3: nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu, for instance, are more liquid than solid. Since we’re taught geography from the perspective of the Global North –large landmasses with small flecks of freshwater—islands encourage a rethinking of global politics and history. It’s no small matter either. The fate of island nations reads like a parable for the rest of us. We need only look to them for an idea of what will become of us if the rising tide of climate chaos and the shifting sands of capitalist crisis are not addressed.

I started my look at Hawai‘i in the northwest, in placid Kaua‘i.

While Kaua‘i does have a lively cast of characters Mr. A told me with a smile that I could hear through the phone, it’s a fairly sleepy island that isn’t developed for tourism in the way that O‘ahu’s Waikīkī or Honolulu are. Most visitors to Kaua‘i wouldn’t have come to pick pineapple either. They’d be more likely to be trekkers looking for a good day hike or beach bums burning for a sunbath in Hanalei Bay. A Hawai‘ian friend of mine told me that Kaua‘i has “that old small-town Hawai‘i feeling to it.” It feels off the beaten track, and that’s part of its allure.

None of the Garden Island’s visitors has been more momentous than the first European to reach its shores: a captain and cartographer by the name of James Cook. In Hawai‘i, Cook has a legacy that exerts its own gravitational force. For some, his name conjures a titan “explorer.” In others he arouses a sense of horror and quiet gloom. Cook remains, even in death, a menace at large in the eyes of some Hawai‘ians.

Mr. A’s home in Kalāheo is not far, maybe 25 minutes, from Waimea Bay where Captain Cook first made landfall in Hawai‘i on January 18, 1778. A statue of Cook stands in Hofgaard Park, a short walk from the Bay, to commemorate that fateful day, while the area surrounding his landing site at the mouth of the Waimea River has served as an occasional homeless encampment, one of many throughout the island chain.4 It’s a painful but apt metaphor for the devastation that Cook brought to Hawai‘i.5

Cook and his crew arrived in 1778 on the HMS Resolution, a sloop-of-war, and its support vessel, the Discovery. This was the third voyage he had made to the shoals of sandy Polynesia and Melanesia, introducing the stony-faced Mo‘ai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, the Ha‘amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon of Tonga, as well as Aotearoa (New Zealand), Tahiti, and New Caledonia to European awareness. For the next few centuries, islands in the Pacific would be passed between colonial powers.

On this third occasion, Cook island-hopped the Pacific for four years before happening on a small, volcanic Eden: Kaua‘i. Cook and his shipmates were pests: spreading disease, spearheading a botched attempt to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu, the ali‘i nui (supreme chief) of Hawai‘i, and causing general mayhem. Hawaiians put an end to his unwanted intrusions a little over three years later by stabbing him to death on Valentine’s Day.


For many Americans, Hawai‘i lies in a hazy ether between statehood, colony, and exotic getaway. Despite their vacations to O‘ahu and Maui, continental Americans know little about Hawai‘i or the cultures or histories of its Native people. If tourists remember Hawai‘i when summer vacation rolls around, the US government brought it into focus when war came over the horizon. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech following the Japanese bombing of Polynesia and Southeast Asia called December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.” As historian Daniel Immerwahr writes in How To Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States, Roosevelt made a round of edits to his “Infamy Speech,” shifting his rhetorical attention to O‘ahu’s Pearl Harbor at the expense of the Midway Atoll (part of the Hawaiian archipelago), Guam, Wake Island, and the Philippines, US territories also bombed by Imperial Japan. Roosevelt believed if focus were laid square on Pearl Harbor, more Americans could be persuaded to support the US joining the war effort and, consequently, to put up with the material sacrifices that a global war required. It was a gambit, however. He feared that the general public wouldn’t consider faraway territories to be a part of the United States, so his choice to focus on Hawai‘i was a calculated one. Hawai‘i was closer to the contiguous United States than the other bombed sites and, more importantly, it had a significant white population, which made it “more plausibly ‘American’” than either Guam or the Philippines. O‘ahu was “an American island, where American lives were lost,” Immerwahr writes, “that was the point [Roosevelt] was trying to make.”6

With that rhetorical shift, Roosevelt inaugurated a small but consequential rewriting of history. Though many remember December 7, 1941 as the day that the Japanese bombed the United States, at the time of the bombing, Hawai‘i was not a US state. It was illegally annexed territory: a military outpost, arms depot, and training site taken from Hawaiian hands in 1898. It would be more than a decade after the bombing of Pearl Harbor that Hawai‘i was admitted as a state, in 1959.

This was the culmination of nearly two centuries of haole (the Hawaiian word for foreigners, especially whites) interference and meddling, beginning with Cook’s arrival. These developments showered wealth on a small, haole plantation elite, who required a docile land with docile people for extractive agriculture. Their wish was granted by the United States military in 1893. In what President Grover Cleveland called “an act of war,” a cadre of businessmen and armed militiamen led an insurrection against Queen Lili‘uokalani, quickly setting up the all-white “Provisional Government of Hawai‘i” and demanding that Washington annex the islands to the United States. A “friend of the Queen,” President Cleveland refused. He was sympathetic to the Hawaiian people and saw the overthrow as illegitimate. With annexation off the table for at least four years, the haole insurrectionists began consolidating power. When Hawaiians loyal to Lili‘uokalani staged a failed countercoup two years later in 1895, the haoles put her on trial and sentenced her to eight months of imprisonment at ‘Iolani Palace. Hawai‘i’s queen had formally ceded her throne to the United States government but made clear she wanted to return to power, fully anticipating her American friends would come to her aid. But when she died in 1917, her country was still annexed to the United States. (Annexation was only finalized in 1898 under the McKinley administration, which used the swell of patriotic fervor during the Spanish-American War as cover for the land grab.) The haole overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom is unusual, according to legal scholar Neil M. Levy, in that land theft and dispossession had all been “accomplished without the usual bothersome wars and costly colonial administration.”7

Hawai‘i was a proving ground for American imperialism, a precursor of what would befall other small islands and atolls which stood in the way of American imperial ambition. Between 1942 and 1944, a number of critical battles in the Pacific gave tiny island outcroppings outsized importance in the minds of military planners: Midway in Hawai‘i, Corregidor and Leyte in the Philippines, Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, Tarawa in Kiribati, Peleliu in Palau, and Saipan and Guam in the Mariana Islands. After World War II, the US turbocharged its military base building project around the world, with a particular eye to the Pacific. In the process, many Indigenous peoples were displaced from their ancestral homelands and prevented from ever returning. The American government used some of these Pacific Islanders as guinea pigs for nuclear weapons testing, notably the inhabitants of the Marshall Islands’s Bikini Atoll.8

Other nations like Australia and France have followed suit. Australia has spent a great deal of money in recent decades militarizing its watery northern border at the same time as it has outsourced its border enforcement regime to neighboring island nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru.9 France has treated its colonies (départements et régions d'outre-mer) as unwitting sites for nuclear weapons testing. In Pita Turei’s documentary Hotu Painu, Native Tahitians (Mā’ohi) recount the ways that France poisoned the pristine atoll of Moruroa with nuclear waste for over 30 years, violating both the International Court of Justice and the sovereignty of the Mā’ohi. Many Mā’ohi working on the atoll died from exposure to radiation or from eating irradiated fish.10

In Hawai‘i, militarization has been similarly devastating. “Throughout the Second World War and its aftermath,” writes Native Hawai‘ian scholar Haunani-Kay Trask, “Hawai‘i was under martial law for seven years, during which time over 600,000 acres of land was confiscated, civil rights were held in abeyance, and a general atmosphere of military intimidation reigned.”11 Kaho‘olawe was seized after Pearl Harbor, turning the island’s “544 archaeological sites and other sacred places for indigenous Hawaiians, into a weapons testing range,” according to Vine.12 After vigorous Native activism and organizing it was finally returned to civilian rule in 2003, the same year Puerto Rico’s Vieques was placed under civilian oversight. Both islands remain toxic ruins.

Well into the 21st century, Hawai‘i continues to be an important platform for what the US military calls “full-spectrum dominance” of the Pacific. Headquartered in ‘Aeia on O‘ahu, US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), for example, is explicitly tasked with securing American hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. It keeps a watchful eye over “about half the earth’s surface” and “more than 50% of the world’s population.”13 And INDOPACOM is only one of 11 US military bases in paradise.


Hawai‘i is a military colony, but it is also a tourist colony. Historically, its economy rested on whaling, then sandalwood logging, and later pineapple and sugarcane production. Today, it’s tourism that comprises “the largest single source of private capital for Hawai‘i’s economy,” according to its Tourism Authority.14 It’s a familiar story throughout Polynesia and the Caribbean. In many small islands today, tourism accounts from anywhere between 25 percent (Hawai‘i) to 90 percent (Antigua and Barbuda) of gross domestic product. Employment in the travel industry accounts for 15 percent of total employment in more than 44 nations worldwide: ranging from 33 percent in nations like Jamaica to as high as 91 percent in Antigua and Barbuda.15 In other words, without the yearly influx of tourists and their cash-padded wallets, many of these economies would collapse. Nations in Polynesia and the Caribbean currently face this very frightening possibility amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sovereign debt makes matters worse. That most of the world’s island nations are both formerly colonized and deeply indebted is no coincidence.16 As the colonial project took off in the 17th century, imperial powers devoured small archipelagos the world over in the race for global hegemony. Islands were hoarded as both strategic military outposts (bases and depots) and sites for resource extraction (plantations and markets). After years of plunder and repression, a relationship of dependency between colonizer and colonized took hold, however massive a resistance Natives put up. This took a new form in the 1970s, when the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank imposed their globalization schemes worldwide. Island nations with tiny economies were forced to grow cash crops and import highly subsidized foodstuffs from the United States, which had the predictable effect of decimating local growers and individual plot farmers as nations became evermore reliant on American agriculture.

With precious few products to sell, islands leaned into tourism, which anthropologist Pegi Vail labels “one of the most powerful globalizing forces of our time.”17 Consequently, these places were more often than not slowly transformed into tourist colonies like the US Virgin Islands and Guadeloupe, where Christopher Columbus had, in 1493, been the first European to lay eyes on a pineapple. Other islands found themselves dependent on an addictive cocktail of tourism and military spending, as in Tahiti, Guam, and Hawai‘i. Still others rely on shadowy banking practices to entice foreign capital investment: i.e., Sāmoa, Vanuatu, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada. This is especially true of Britain’s Crown Dependencies and overseas territories.18 Independence, while necessary for sovereignty, does not always offer sweet release from the colonial headache. An ear-splitting hangover often lingers long after. Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Cabo Verde, and Jamaica are all both heavily reliant on tourism and deeply indebted as a result of predation by international financial institutions.19

Alongside the forceful influx of dollars to Hawai‘i comes the influx of haole tourists. To some activists like Trask, Hawai‘i feels overrun with foreigners: over 10 million visit the islands each year.20 Hawai‘ian environmental scientists like Mehana Blaich Vaughan warn that the ecological effects of mass tourism to places like her native Kaua‘i are more severe than many believe. With 1.7 million tourists visiting the Garden Island each year, even non-extractive activities like scuba diving and surfing tend to disrupt the local flora and fauna as well as traditional fishing practices. In the vicinity of marine hatcheries, water sports frighten animals during spawning.21 More intrepid tourist-explorers push towards ever more remote areas and disturb wildlife. It is for these and other reasons that “some Hawaiians believe [the word haole] is a sort of antonym of ‘aloha,’ the most Hawaiian word of all.”22

As part of a state-wide focus on tourism and living the “aloha spirit,” legislation strives to ensure that Natives live up to their mythical portrayal. One 1986 bill, for instance, attempted to define aloha as:

the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. […] “Aloha’” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.23

“Each person must think and emote good feelings to others” by, say, keeping a smiling face on, through thick and thin. Similar programs exist in island nations like The Bahamas to plaster a welcoming smile across every islander’s face.24 The “Aloha Spirit Law” is an odd law that almost feels like it was made to preempt any pesky sovereignty protests muddying up what would otherwise be a tourist’s gorgeous photographs of their trip to Waikīkī. Maybe Hawai‘i’s “happy Natives” need to be reminded every once in a while just how happy they are. If all else fails, some time in the slammer should do the trick.25

There’s a similar fiction in the myth of “island time.” Though it’s marketed as a cultural gimmick alongside swanky hotels, “island time” doesn’t refer to any real phenomenon on the ground. There is no geographic reimagination of time, no spacetime vacuum in the island chain. In Hawai‘i as elsewhere, the leisurely flexibility with timelines—what’s called “island time”—is as much an imposition as it is a response to impoverishment, unemployment, and subservience to tourists. Life is deliberately modulated: slowed down and sped up, depending on the moment. Slow time for one is a breakneck pace for another. The common denominator between the two is what scholar Robert Nixon called slow violence, not slow time.26 Tourists may throw back shots or luxuriate with a blue-dyed Mai Tai in hand, but this is only because Hawaiians break a sweat and break their backs to keep those visitors feeling “Hawai‘ian at heart.”

Even if you follow the legislated rules of aloha, you’re likely still to end up impoverished. Tourism dollars tend to not benefit locals, who work at big hotels, attractions, and sites but get paid a pittance of the king’s ransom that travel conglomerates rake in. Money spent on hotel accommodations, plane tickets, and non-local chains lands in the hands of CEOs, not local economies. Instead, locals generally get the pocket change spent on souvenirs, locally grown produce, or small-scale guided-tour outfits. The majority of the money spent on vacations, around 80 percent, is lost to what economists call “leakage.” Fiscal benefits leak out of the equation long before they can make it into the pockets of locals.27


Hawai‘i is a beautiful place—there’s no doubt about it—but when the myths about “paradise” fall away, it’s hard to ignore the horrors that finally shrink-wrapped the islands into a tourist-friendly venue: two centuries of bayonets, bombardments, and subjection; missionaries hacking away at Hawai‘ian culture and philosophy; sugarcane plantation owners ravaging the soil; and the US military and real estate speculators despoiling the land. Tourism, it appears, is only the latest iteration of the devouring of Hawai‘i.

It’s a double bind. Islands in Polynesia and the Caribbean sell a week or two of sunshine (tourism), a chance to hide money (tax havens), or a slice of paradise (real estate) because they have to make ends meet somehow. State and local governments in Hawai‘i, for instance, are hooked on tax revenue they collect from foreign visitors, without which they would struggle to fund essential government functions and social services. The 73.7 percent drop in arrivals to the islands from the previous year spells disaster if city leaders don’t take appropriate action.28

Rather than abandon tourism altogether, a move towards sustainable tourism led by Native Hawai‘ians—with housing protections for locals and funds secured for cultural preservation—is in order. This model for urban planning has shown promise in European and North American cities like Lisbon, Venice, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Toronto, where officials have taken time to address issues of housing insecurity, eviction, and homelessness that have been exacerbated by increased tourism to their cities.29 Their aim is to provide low-cost housing for every resident, while keeping the tourist dollars flowing, so that cities stay solvent, healthy, and safe. This is, of course, easier said than done, but it’s my considered opinion that the United States ought to finance such an undertaking in Hawai‘i. What better way to initiate reparations to Native Hawaiians for the overthrow of their monarchy.

I won’t be visiting Hawai‘i for vacation anytime soon, and I’d caution you against it, too. In fact, don’t travel by plane at all for the time being. Lockdown measures have created a collective claustrophobia and intensified our individual wanderlust, but don’t jet off to a far-flung destination in an attempt to escape. The pandemic will still be raging when you arrive, especially if a virus hitched a ride with you.

I won’t be traveling, and I hope you won’t be either. It’s the conscious traveler who is attentive to local customs, who spends wisely to support local residents, and who knows when to just stay at home.

  1. Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988).
  2. There is a term for this: how the desire for fun collides with the desire for war, how the seemingly separate worlds of colonialism and tourism rely on each other. It is militourism. Coined by the late I-Kiribati scholar Teresia Teaiwa, “militourism is a phenomenon by which military or paramilitary force ensures the smooth running of a tourist industry, and that same tourist industry masks the military force behind it.” Hawai‘i is exemplary in this respect: its tourism industry capitalizes on the military histories of islands (Pearl Harbor), while at the same time “flatten[ing], tam[ing], and render[ing] benign the culture of militarism.” Teresia Teaiwa, “Reading Paul Gauguin’s Noa Noa with Epili Hua‘ofa’s Kisses in the Nederends: Militourism, Feminism, and the “Polynesian” Body,” in Inside Out: Literature, Cultural Politics, and Identity in the New Pacific, ed. Vilsoni Hereniko and Rob Wilson (Landham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999), 251.
  3. Gary Y. Okihiro, Gary Y. Island World: A History of Hawai‘i and the United States (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).
  4. Tourists have shared their dismay at site’s being a homeless encampment: see the Google Reviews of “Cook’s Landing Site” in Waimea. Meanwhile, the state government recognizes the persistent issue of homelessness, especially among Native Hawai‘ians. For a recent report, see “Homeless In Hawai‘i: Facts And Resources” on the state’s Lt. Governor’s website.
  5. For more on the demographic collapse of Hawai‘i after haole arrived, see Puhipau, Act of War: The Overthrow of the Hawai‘ian Nation (Nā Maka o ka ʻĀina, 1993) and David E. Stannard, Before the Horror: The Population of Hawaii on the Eve of Western Contact (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1989).
  6. Daniel Immerwahr, How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), 1-8.
  7. This history comes from both Puhipau, Act of War and Haunani-Kay Trask, From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai‘i (Honolulu: Latitude 20, 1999). The Levy quote is taken from Trask, From a Native Daughter, 7.
  8. David Vine, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2015).
  9. Theo Deutinger, “Walled World.” TD, 17 Sept. 2009. Alison Mountz, “Mapping Remote Detention: Dis/Location through Isolation” In Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis, eds. Jenna M. Loyd et al. (Atlanta: University of Georgia Press, 2012), 91–104. Sasha Polakow-Suransky. “How Europe’s Far Right Fell in Love with Australia’s Immigration Policy,” The Guardian, 12 October 2017.
  10. Turei, Hotu Painu, 1988.
  11. Trask, From a Native Daughter, 17.
  12. Vine, Base Nation, 74.
  13. This fact is nonchalantly advertised on the base’s website under the “About” section:
  14. Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, “Fact Sheet: Benefits of Hawai‘i’s Tourism Economy,” 2019.
  15. Dorothy Neufeld, “Visualizing the Countries Most Reliant on Tourism,” Visual Capitalist May 22, 2020.
  16. For a visual representation of how high island nations rank in national debt worldwide, see Raul, “Visualizing the State of Government Debt Around the World,” 3 January 2019.
  17. Pegi Vail, Gringo Trails. Zebra Films, 2013.
  18. Bermuda, Gibraltar, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey are exemplary in this sense. For more on Britain’s illegal banking practices, see the FinCEN Files leaked in 2020.
  19. For more on Antigua and Barbuda, see Kincaid’s A Small Place. For more on Jamaica, see Stephanie Black’s film, Life and Debt (Tuff Gong Pictures, 2003).
  20. Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, “2019 Annual Visitor Research Report,” Hawai‘i Tourism, accessed 20 October 2020.
  21. Mehana Blaich Vaughan, Kaiāulu: Gathering Tides (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2018).
  22. Sarah Vowell, Unfamiliar Fishes (New York: Riverhead Books, 2011), 28.
  23. Bruce Dunford, “Aloha Spirit Law Means More than Saying Hello and Goodbye,” AP News 21 1986. To be sure, some of my language –i.e., “legislation has arisen to ensure Natives […]” and “the legislated rules of aloha”– is tongue-in-cheek, but it’s the spirit of the law that I want to emphasize.
  24. The Takeaway, “The Legacy of Colonialism in Caribbean Tourism,” WNYC Studios 13 January 2020.
  25. Hawai‘i is no exception to the U.S. rule of mass incarceration. Native Hawai‘ians fill prison and jail cells disproportionately, receiving harsher sentences than their haole peers. For more, see Prison Policy Initiative, “Hawaii profile,” accessed 22 October 2020. The phrase “happy Natives” comes from Trask, From a Native Daughter, 2.
  26. Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013).
  27. Leap Local, “Where Does The Money Go From Tourism?,” accessed 25 February 2020. For more on “leakage,” see Cristina Jönsson, “Leakage, economic tourism,” Encyclopedia of Tourism 24 September 2015.
  28. Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “Hawai‘i Visitor Statistics Released for November 2020,” 28 December, 2020.
  29. Ashifa Kassam, “‘Covid created an opportunity’: Lisbon to turn tourist flats into homes,” The Guardian, 1 December 2020.


Matthew Byrne

is a writer and translator based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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MARCH 2021

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