We Don't Just Eat Coconuts and Wear Grass Skirts: Researching and Analyzing Representations of Hawaiian Culture in Oahu’s Tourist Industry Presentation

Szymanski, Natalie
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Honolulu: 2017 UH First-Year Writing Symposium
This assignment presentation will explore a research project assigned to First Year Writing students participating in UH-West Oahu’s Learning Community initiative. This assignment fused UHWO’s PIKO learning community emphasis on local community engagement and service learning with UH’s Foundational Writing Hallmarks by asking students to research, visit, analyze, and construct arguments about the representation of local and indigenous peoples and cultures at tourist destinations on the island of Oahu (i.e The Bishop Museum, The Polynesian Cultural Center, The Hilton Hawaiian Village, Disney’s Aulani Resort, Paradise Cove Luau, etc.). The assignment asked students to complete secondary research about the tourist destination, the peoples/cultures the site purported to represent, and multimodal theories of representation as well as primary research via site visits. Utilizing this research students were then prompted to create their own original arguments about the representations of indigenous cultures presented to Oahu’s tourists and the possible ideological implications of those messages for both tourists and Hawaiians. This presentation will provide details about the assignment’s prompt and the lessons included in the unit that scaffolded the writing and research process for students. It will also utilize students’ reflective memos to explore both the successes and shortcomings of the assignment and its lessons, touching on complications related to students’ information literacy skills and their hesitancy to move beyond summarization. Finally, this presentation will explore the benefits and drawbacks of utilizing a critical pedagogy approach focused on the exploration of contact zones through primary local-based research and direct community engagement in the First Year Writing classroom.
This talk was presented as part of Breakout Session 4 | Panel 1: "Place-Based Pedagogies for Critical Thinking." This is the full PDF of the talk's powerpoint presentation slides.
Research Assignment, Information Literacies, Community Engagement, Local and Indigenous Representations, Contact Zones  
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