The 2024 Antipode AAG Lecture — “Detours as Worldmaking: Archives, Methods, Genres”

Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez
Professor of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies
Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley

If you’ll be attending the American Association of Geographers annual meeting in Honolulu, HI, please join us (either in-person or virtually) for the 2024 Antipode AAG Lecture, “Detours as Worldmaking: Archives, Methods, Genres”, presented by Prof. Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez on Friday 19th April, 15:00-16:20 HST, in Room 320 (Emalani Theater), Third Floor, Hawai‘i Convention Center.

In lieu of an honorarium, Prof. Gonzalez requested that the Antipode Foundation make a donation to Hawai’i People’s Fund. We are delighted to be able to contribute to their work supporting, funding, and amplifying the work of Hawai’i-based grassroots organizations challenging systems of oppression. Many thanks to Vernadette, from everyone at Antipode the journal and the Antipode Foundation, for agreeing to join us in Honolulu.

Abstract: If you go to Hawai‘i as a tourist, this is what you will see. I begin with this play on Jamaica Kincaid’s opening salvo in her brutal and necessary polemic essay, A Small Place (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988), to guide my reflection on confronting and seizing tourism’s world-making power in the Pacific. What does it mean to take seriously how tourism’s genres narrate place into materiality, particularly where touristic desire is intimately woven into necropolitical structures of occupation, militarism, and settler colonialism? What might it look like to put this placemaking power in the service of deoccupation, demilitarism, and decolonialism—to insist instead on stories of plenty, sanctuary, or devotion? By way of several detours in Hawai‘i and other places connected by geopolitics if not geography, I explore the power and process of collective placemaking in further manifesting what Epeli Hau‘ofa has described as “vast”, “expanding”, “hospitable and generous” worlds already in emergence.

Prof. Gonzalez’s interdisciplinary humanities-based research broadly examines cultures of imperialism, with a focus on the United States and its colonial territories and interventions in Asia and the Pacific. A central thematic in it is how race, Indigeneity, gender, and sexuality intersect and operate, sometimes together and sometimes in opposition, in the cultural terrains of empire. Prof. Gonzalez’s first book, Securing Paradise: Tourism and Militarism in Hawai‘i and the Philippines (Duke University Press, 2013), considers the convergences of modern military and touristic ideologies, cultures, and technologies of tourism and militarism. Securing Paradise was named the best book in cultural studies by the Association for Asian American Studies in 2015. Further developing this line of inquiry, in 2016 Prof. Gonzalez co-edited, with Jana K. Lipman and Teresia Teaiwa, a special issue of American Quarterly investigating “the multiple ways in which tourism and militarism inform each other in the past and in our own contemporary moment”.

As a whole, Prof. Gonzalez’s work examines how empire operates through and in a register of intimacy, particularly through the production of consent and hospitality upon which it relies. Her most recent monograph, Empire’s Mistress, Starring Isabel Rosario Cooper (Duke University Press, 2021) is an exploration of the intimacies of imperial geopolitics through the life story of a mixed-race vaudeville and film actress and sometime mistress of General Douglas MacArthur. It received an Association for Asian American Studies honorable mention for history in 2023. Prof. Gonzalez’s other publications can be found in the edited collections Tourism Geopolitics: Assemblages of Infrastructure, Affect, and Imagination (University of Arizona Press, 2021); Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialism (NYU Press, 2015); Mobile Desires: The Politics and Erotics of Mobility Justice (Palgrave, 2015); Transnational Crossroads: Remapping the Americas and the Pacific (University of Nebraska Press. 2012); as well as in journals including Journal of Tourism History (2020); Shima (2020); Radical History Review (2017 and 2015); Journal of Sustainable Tourism (2017); and Critical Ethnic Studies (2017).

Prof. Gonzalez is coeditor, with Hōkūlani K. Aikau, of Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai’i (Duke University Press, 2019), which curates alternative, place-based narratives, art, and itineraries that present a decolonial archive and vision for life in Hawai’i. Detours now anchors a book series with Duke University Press, with volumes on Palestine, Guåhan/Guam, Okinawa, Singapore, Korea, the San Francisco Bay Area, Puerto Rico, and other sites. The Detours project has also inspired an open source book in collaboration with the University of Hawai‘i’s Center for Pacific Islands Studies, which is in development.

Finally, Prof. Gonzalez is also co-editor of Bangtan Remixed (Duke University Press, 2024), an interdisciplinary critical reader about the K-pop group BTS with Patty Ahn, Michelle Cho, Rani Neutill, Mimi Thi Nguyen and Yutian Wong. In the volume, she contributes an essay that focuses on the gendered Asian laboring body in circuits of entertainment, which is informed by my next book projects on hospitality and its discontents, interracial militarized sex work, tourism entertainment, and other embodiments of invitation and encounter.

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