Kingdom, Territory, State: An Architectural Narrative of Honolulu, Hawaii (1882-1994)

Open Access
Moses, Kelema Lee
Graduate Program:
Art History
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
August 28, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Craig Robert Zabel, Dissertation Advisor
  • Nancy Elizabeth Locke, Committee Member
  • Madhuri Shrikant Desai, Committee Member
  • Deryck William Holdsworth, Committee Member
  • Dr Stacy Kamehiro, Special Member
  • Hawaii
  • architecture
  • urbanism
  • colonialism
  • nationalism
  • regionalism
  • internationalism
  • politics
  • identity
This dissertation examines the architecture of Honolulu, Hawaii from 1882 to 1994. Hawaii’s historical trajectory from indigenous sovereign kingdom to U.S. state within this period situates it within U.S. colonial discourses and allows for the study of Honolulu as a colonized city. I focus on a small, select group of architectural structures in downtown Honolulu, Waikiki, Ala Moana, and Pearl Harbor in order to assess the tension between native and foreign identities as well as the ways in which these identities influenced the built environment. The architectural narrative of regionalism, U.S. nationalism, and internationalism in Honolulu captures the complicated negotiations between governmental actors, architects and city planners, businesses, and public and private institutions both in the city and abroad. This study uncovers an architectural history that is both a curiosity because of its Pacific island setting and, yet, strangely familiar in form, function, and style. It aims to disrupt hierarchies of knowledge that relegate Pacific island cities to the periphery and, instead, position Honolulu’s architectural heritage within global conversations about identity, politics, and culture.