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Oh, Say, Can You See

The Semiotics of the Military in Hawai’i

1998
Authors:

Kathy E. Ferguson and Phyllis Turnbull

Oh, Say, Can You See

Considers what the military presence in Hawai’i tells us about colonialism, gender, race, and class.

In Hawaiian daily life few residents see the military at all-it is hidden in plain sight. This paradox of invisibility and visibility, of the available and the hidden, is the subject of Oh, Say, Can You See?, which maps the power relations involving gender, race, and class that define Hawai’i in relation to the national security state.

A wonderfully provocative book. Kathy Ferguson and Phyllis Turnbull explore the narrative intersections between immigration, international agribusiness, military expansion, and tourism, making this a book that should be widely read.

Cynthia H. Enloe, Clark University and author of The Morning After: Sexual Politics at the End of the Cold War

Everywhere you look in Hawai’i, you might see the military. And yet, in daily life few residents see the military at all-it is hidden in plain sight. This paradox of invisibility and visibility, of the available and the hidden, is the subject of Oh, Say, Can You See?, which maps the power relations involving gender, race, and class that define Hawai’i in relation to the national security state.

Western intruders into Hawai’i-from the early explorers, missionaries, and sugar planters to the military, tourists, and foreign investors-have seen the island nation as a feminine place, waiting to embrace those who come to penetrate, protect, mold, and develop, yet conveniently lacking whatever the newcomers claim to possess. Thus feminized, this book contends, the islands and the people have been reinscribed with meanings according to the needs, fears, and desires of outsiders.

Authors Kathy E. Ferguson and Phyllis Turnbull locate and “excavate” sites of memory, such as cemeteries, memorials, monuments, and museums, to show how the military constructs its gendered narrative upon prior colonial discourses. Among the sites considered are Fort DeRussy, Pearl Harbor, and Punchbowl Cemetery, as well as the practices of citizenship that are produced or foreclosed by the narratives of order and security written upon Hawai’i by the military.

This semiotic investigation of ways the military marks Hawai’i necessarily explores the intersection of immigration, colonialism, military expansion, and tourism on the islands. Attending to the ways in which the military represents itself and others represent the military, the authors locate the particular representational elements that both conceal and reveal the military’s presence and power; in doing so, they seek to expand discursive space so that other voices can be heard.

ISBN 0-8166-2978-1 Cloth $49.95xx
ISBN 0-81662979-X Paper $19.95x
240 pages 5 7/8 x 9 December
Borderlines Series, Volume 10
Translation inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

Oh, Say, Can You See

Kathy E. Ferguson is professor of political science and women’s studies and Phyllis Turnbull is associate professor of political science. Both teach at the University of Hawai’i.

Oh, Say, Can You See

A wonderfully provocative book. Kathy Ferguson and Phyllis Turnbull explore the narrative intersections between immigration, international agribusiness, military expansion, and tourism, making this a book that should be widely read.

Cynthia H. Enloe, Clark University and author of The Morning After: Sexual Politics at the End of the Cold War

Situated on the margins of American society, Hawai’i is strategically located to refract significant themes in American politics and culture. This exciting book brings a well-organized and theoretically sophisticated approach to topics that will have a far reaching impact.

Geoffrey White, East-West Center, Hawai’i

This extensively researched and well written book provides an interesting read. Ferguson and Turnbull argue that their purpose is to offer broad suggestions regarding the properties of democratic citizenship, which would presumably include national service within the military. Emphasizing Hawai’i is the most militarized state and that the military is the second largest industry within Hawai’i, they present four basic issues that will require the military institution to respond.

Choice

Oh, Say, Can You See

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. Traffic in Tropical Bodies
2. Looking in the Mirror at Fort DeRussy
3. Constructing and Contesting the Frame at Fort DeRussy
4. Remembering and Forgetting at Punchbowl National Cemetery
5. Seeing as Believing at the Arizona Memorial
6. The Pedagogy of Citizenship

Notes
Bibliography

Index