Place, Region and Ethnicity and/in Hawaian literature: Kiana Davenport’s Shark Dialogues (1995)

Jaroslav Kušnír, University of Prešov, Slovakia, ID LLCE2018-400;    Abstract: Instead of currently fashionable notion of “displacement”, the title of this conference implies rather an essentialist understanding of place and its connection with a formation of both local and cultural identities understood as firmly rooted in a particular place and space. In this sense then, a notion of place can be understood as closely connected with a notion of a region implying not only geographical, but especially cultural specificity of such a place which have been depicted in what is often called “regional literature.” In American literature, they are especially the American South and the West which have often been understood as probably the most specific regions forming an important enrichment of American literary canon. Because of its political, historical and cultural complexity, Hawaian literature written in English has been understood mostly, although not exclusively,  as either specific American regional literature or as part of Asian-American literary canon.This understanding of Hawaian literature is close to the essentialist concept of place which is, in both human geography and literary theory juxtaposed to the postmodern understanding of place, especially in the context of globalization when particular places are understood as rid off their specificity, as placeless and rather neutral (Augé, Soja, etc.). This paper will point out and analyze a position of Hawaian literature in the context of both esssentialism/regionalism and of postmodern and more recent understandings of place in a globalization context. At the same time, the paper will analyze Kiana Davenport´s novel Shark Dialogues and the way it expresses both a specificity of Hawaian cultural identity and its problematization in the context of both globalization and more recent theories of place understood as entities rid of their specificity because of the influence of the capital and technology. The analysis will focus on the way Davenport depicts a complicated nature of Hawaian cultural identity from the perspective of their historical rootedness in place connected with native Hawaian culture as well as from the perspective of later and contemporary influences of Asian and American cultures on the formation of a complexity of Hawaian cultural tradition.  

Key words: Hawaian literature, place, region, space, ethnicity, cultural identity, postmodernism

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