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Gateway StateHawai'i and the Cultural Transformation of American Empire$
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Sarah Miller-Davenport

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691181233

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691181233.001.0001

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Selling the “Golden People”

Selling the “Golden People”

Hawai‘i Tourism and the Commodification of Racial Tolerance

(p.116) 4 Selling the “Golden People”
Gateway State

Sarah Miller-Davenport

Princeton University Press

This chapter studies the Hawaiʻi tourism industry's efforts to market Hawaiʻi as a multicultural paradise where positive racial experiences could be bought and sold. Although Hawaiʻi had long been a draw for wealthy tourists, jet travel, which arrived the same year as statehood, allowed a larger and broader cohort of mainland Americans to vacation in the islands, which the tourism industry portrayed as a quasi-foreign space where mainlanders could experience social amity and forge multicultural self-identities in the comfort of a safe, American milieu. In the process, the chapter argues that tourism helped turn race and racial tolerance into saleable—if intangible—commodities. Meanwhile, a massive military rest and recreation (RR) program in Hawaiʻi for combat soldiers during the Vietnam War exposed the limits of global mutual understanding and racial tolerance. Instead of encouraging its consumers to learn from Hawaiʻi's mixed multicultural society, RR in Hawaiʻi upheld the nuclear family and sought to insulate servicemen from the wider world. The tourism industry epitomized the ways in which much of the liberal racial discourse in the post-civil rights era conflated race, culture, and ethnicity, and in the process, depoliticized all three.

Keywords:   Hawaiʻi tourism industry, multicultural paradise, multicultural self-identities, racial tolerance, military rest and recreation program, mutual understanding, military rest, military recuperation, multicultural society, combat soldiers

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