Placemaking and the Gentrification of Kakaʻako:
Exploring Alternative Pathways for Sustainable Futures
Placemaking and the Gentrification of Kakaʻako: Exploring Alternative Pathways for Sustainable Futures
Wiebe, Sarah Marie
University of Hawaii at Manoa
This thesis critically examines how narratives of neighborhood identity and boundaries become manufactured, reinterpreted, and commodified by corporate-led urban development in Kakaʻako by engaging in critical discourse analysis, narrative research, and phenomenology by examining discursive literature and conducting interviews with community stakeholders. In critically examining the production of space, this project addresses how such processes are tied to a broader structure of inequality and shape how neighborhood identities and boundaries change or remain. The prevalent anxieties within the public discourse of Hawaiʻi is that Honolulu is increasingly experiencing gentrification and becoming “a playground for the rich.” Such notions reflect David Harvey’s argument that, within the predominant neoliberal economic structure of capitalist economies, capital is allowed to shape cities and the urban landscape as a whole through the process of “accumulation by dispossession” (Ley, 1994). Consequently, such processes superimpose settler-colonial geographies upon the landscape, thereby rendering Indigenous geographies disenfranchised. While gentrification is a predominately economic process, its development is reinforced by consumption-oriented patterns toward urban space, which, within the intermodal process of consumption-oriented gentrification, reflects David Ley’s (1994) observation that socio-cultural characteristics and motives are vital toward understanding the gentrification of the post-industrial city. In recognizing gentrification’s inherently violent processes of dispossession and erasure as a result of the uneven production and consumption of space, this project aims to critically examine the neoliberal structuring of cities, which facilitates the commodification and consumption of space in Hawaiʻi, using the district of Kakaʻako as a site of inquiry.
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