Browsing Theses and Dissertations by Subject "Pacific World"
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Planter's Paradise: Nature, Culture, and Hawaiʻi’s Sugarcane PlantationsOver the course of the nineteenth century, the Hawaiian sugar industry rose from economic insignificance to become one of the world’s most efficient and productive sugarcane plantation systems. "Planter's Paradise" traces the transnational environmental history of cane planting in Hawaiʻi, from Polynesian settlement to the early twentieth century, to explore how an export-based mono-culture plantation system eclipsed diversified farming, how cultural encounters between indigenous and Euro-American groups influenced agriculture and natural resource use, and how the politics of planting contributed to the rise of American hegemony over the islands. With research grounded in plantation records, agricultural association publications, popular media, and personal correspondence, I address sugarcane planting as a point where ideas about nature, methods of converting nature into commodities for consumption in distant markets, and nature itself influenced each other within the context of U.S. imperial expansion. I argue that the ascendance of Hawaiʻi’s sugar industry was the result of cultural encounters, economic relations, and environmental conditions at the local level, but cane planting also connected the archipelago to particular transnational networks of economic, ecological, and cultural exchange. Sugarcane planting introduced to Hawaiʻi foreign ways of relating to the natural world, a host of alien organisms, and advances in agricultural science and technology that impacted all of Hawaiian society. These introductions contributed to planters' power. By the early twentieth century, Hawaiʻi had become a planter's paradise: a society and environment transformed for the industrial cultivation of sugarcane.