Accepted Paper:

The Power of Representation through Words and Images: King Kalākaua, Japanese Immigrants, and Spreckelsville  

Author:

Ami Mulligan (University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Paper short abstract:

The provenance of objects holds histories both illuminated and obscured by power. Power can be established and perpetuated with narratives formed by material and textual representations. Examining a broader range of narratives concurrently created with the painting can expand its historical context.

Paper long abstract:

In 1885, a painting of Japanese laborers on Spreckelsville plantation on the island of Maui was completed by Joseph Strong. The painting was commissioned by King Kālakaua, and was intended to be a gift to Emperor Meiji of Japan. The painting portrays an image of Japanese laborers on a sugar cane plantation, with other sugar cane laborers in the background and is currently owned by the Mitsui Corporation of Japan.

This painting seems to represent the future of Hawai'i envisioned by - the sugar economy and the Japanese laborers that were intended not only to work the plantations but to help bolster the declining Hawaiian population. Yet, it also masks the Hawaiian language discourse contemporaneous with the arrival of Japanese immigrants, first in 1868 with the Gannen Mono and restarting again in 1885 with the arrival of the Kanyaku Imin. What was salient to the Hawaiian people about the Japanese immigrants and their arrival, and of the sugar plantations, specifically on Spreckelsville, Maui, where the first Japanese immigrants worked? What representational power do images (like paintings) and words (like newspapers) produce through narratives whose legacies remain in the present?

Panel P047
Ka Waihona Palapala Mānaleo: Challenging Provenance in a Time of Resource Abundance