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The Dread Taboo, Human Sacrifice, and Pearl Harbor

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Title:The Dread Taboo, Human Sacrifice, and Pearl Harbor
Authors:Herman R.D.K.
Keywords:kapu (taboo)
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LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:1996
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Herman, R. D. K. 1996. The Dread Taboo, Human Sacrifice, and Pearl Harbor. The Contemporary Pacific 8 (1): 81-126.
Abstract:Three events literally put the Hawaiian Islands on the map: the death of Captain
Cook, the overthrow of the kapu system, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
These events are also signposts in a circular movement of power out of the hands
of Hawaiians and into the hands of Euro-Americans. Starting with the bombing
of Kealakekua Bay by Cook's ships and culminating in US martial law over the
islands after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the power to proclaim kapu shifted
from the Hawaiian ali'i to a new "ali'i" composed of the US government and its
military. The use of symbolic landscapes to reify power similarly moved from
Hawaiian heiau to American war memorials. Using the word and concept of
kapu (taboo) as a trail marker, this change in politic is re-read to reveal the western
appropriation of an "oppressive" power once allegedly held, in western discourse,
by the Hawaiian ali'i. This very allegation at once justifies and mystifies
the shift of power into western hands.
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1996 - Volume 8, Number 1

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