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Staging Democracy and Multiculturalism

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The 1970 Osaka Exposition and the Hawai‘i Pavilion

image of Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

This article examines the critical role Hawai‘i’s Japanese American diaspora played at the 1970 Osaka Exposition in facilitating a Hawai‘i-Japan economic partnership and disseminating messages of Hawai‘i’s multiculturalism and democracy to local and international audiences. White and Japanese American male government officials and members of the Governor’s Citizen Advisory Committee for the Expo emphasized the large Japanese American population in Hawai‘i as well as the cultural hybridity of their state in order to make the Japanese audience—potential tourists and investors—feel welcome. The main “spectacle” of the Hawai‘i pavilion featured a group of hostesses—primarily of Japanese American ancestry—who daily danced the hula. While the hostesses graciously performed the femininity and aloha that were expected of them, they also articulated their ethnic identities by educating the Japanese about the Japanese diaspora and its contributions to the fiftieth state of the United States.

Affiliations: 1: PhD student in the Department of American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, Honolulu, HI, USA,


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