Date of Graduation

Winter 12-15-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Sharon Gmelch


The guiding research question for this thesis asks how Hawaiian indigeneity and self-determination are articulated within tourism spaces in Hawaiʻi. This thesis research works to uncover the nuanced ways that Hawaiian indigeneity is employed to manage and regulate tourism activities in Hawaiʻi. I seek to question the narrative that Hawaiians consent to, and prosper from, the largely unregulated mass tourism complex that has become a focal point of the post-colonial state. Native Hawaiians have actively resisted the erosion of their culture, lands, and nation through strategies that employ multiple understandings of indigeneity. We should not assume that the tourism industry in Hawaiʻi operates free from formal and informal management, governance and resistance activities. I argue that tourism management strategies developed from Native Hawaiian political, economic, religious, and cultural traditions should be studied to asses how complex dynamics of power and knowledge are manifested in Hawaiʻi. I suggest that the authentic employment of Hawaiian values and tradition act in stark contrast to the commodification of Hawaiian culture long perpetrated by the tourism industry. Additionally, I found that movements in favor of the repossession of Hawaiʻi’s cultural image place Hawaiian people’s agency at the forefront of tourism inversing traditional host-visitor power relations.