home both denote something to which one is naturally tied so that nations

Home both denote something to which one is naturally

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home both “denote something to which one is naturally tied,” so that “nations inspire . . . often profoundly self-sacrificing love” (Anderson 1991 , 143 , 141 ). What is notable about Grant and Ogawa’s proposal—along with others by the “children of Asian settlers”—is an emotional cadence barely con- tained within the language of scholarly objectivity. Its tone can range from conciliatory to abject, and at critical moments threatens to displace the text from the author’s argument to how he or she feels. Later in this article I return to this appeal to feelings that occurs around aloha. Here I would simply point out that for Asian Locals, evocations of aloha seem intended to answer an irreconcilable gap in political identity—in contemporary psychological jargon, anxiety, guilt, or shame (Isaki 1996 ; Fujikane 1994 , 30 )—which for many years was manifested as an overweening eagerness to champion the cause of aloha and stamp the nation-state with its brand. 4 To me, a Japanese-American raised on the US continent, such easy owner-
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dialogue ohnuma 377 ship of a communal egalitarian principle still resonates as part of the disori- enting Hawai‘i experience of being mistaken for a large insider “we”—like being white in America. To my ears, rather than political identity, aloha as pronounced by Asian Locals carries a tone of wishful nostalgia for the culture-wide “small-kid time” before Asian immigrants were coerced into renouncing their homelands (as Japanese-American internees during World War II were advised) or modeling the dominant capitalist paradigm as evi- dence of their rehabilitation (Kent 1993 , 130 ). As an imaginary construct, this longing for a long-lost coherent unity appears to be an instance of what is called in subaltern politics “fetishization of the wound.” In Wendy Brown’s terms, the wound—in this case, renunciation of past identity— “comes to stand for identity itself” as something that just is, outside of history, cut off from a history of injury and substituted by the sign of pain as spectacle (Brown quoted in Ahmed 2004 , 32 ). Under the discourse of aloha, the fetishized sacrifices of nisei (second-generation Japanese Ameri- cans) and other Locals—symbolized by the World War II heroism of the Japanese-American 442 nd Regimental Combat Team and the iconic loss of Senator Daniel Inouye’s right arm—undergoes conversion as a repeatable individual act of “choosing” love, a salve that promises “safety, comfort, caring and coming to terms that can underwrite experiences that would otherwise be traumatic” (Isaki 2006 , paraphrasing Berlant 2001 , 448 ). Here again, aloha serves to smooth over an otherwise traumatic transition from the past, reenacting identification with the injured community as a politically astute manifestation of personal autonomy. To delve further into the compensations of aloha for Local identity, even the contrite settler’s version that owns up to complicity in Native dispossession still makes claims on either end of what I would call the Hawaiian / haole semiotics of desire. For when it comes to the mythic landscape of aloha uniting the white European with his “soft primitive,” the Oriental has always been excluded. Jane Desmond’s study of the con-
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