Kyle Odegard, Corvallis Gazette-Times: A Corvallis restaurant owner is apologizing a week after opening up a Tiki bar downtown and being accused of cultural appropriation and insensitivity. Andersson also critically examines Thor Heyerdahl’s theory on the settlement of Polynesia, including what he believes to be problematic aspects of it. MK: At one time I was like, “Oh yeah, you know, just, like, get rid of the mugs.” But the deeper that I get into this, the more thoughtful I am about it, the more people that I talk to, the more I have to concentrate on it, I really do feel like there needs to be a thoughtful examination of this. Samuel Jimenez: I am half Samoan, half Mexican—first-generation on both sides. But in the current climate, in which racial inequities and personal accountability are put under a microscope, tiki’s history of appropriation and cultural insensitivity are receiving overdue attention. In terms of this conversation that we’re having today, a lot of the work just kind of started over the past two years by being vocal on social media about my opinions on tiki and the issues within the tiki drinks genre. The Bizarre Rise and Fall of the Tiki Bar. This collection was supposed to tie them over financially until Heyerdahl’s travelogue, which he was about to write, would be published. A Tiki torch manufacturer is denouncing white supremacists who used its products in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. Tiki culture ostensibly began when Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt opened the first Don the Beachcomber bar in Hollywood in 1933, decorated with the souvenirs of his own voyages around the South Pacific. Since its inception in July 2019, Doom Tiki has acted as a counterpoint to the prevailing tiki aesthetic, and has become a guiding light for the category’s future along the way. That was one of my favorite things when I was little and now actually unpacking the attraction itself, where you have four narrators—a German bird, a French bird, a British bird and a Spanish-speaking bird—it’s like this colonizer phantasmagoria. SJ: If it is appreciation that you have for our people, for our islands, for our cultures, for this aesthetic, for our words—then help us. 3. Culturally speaking, white supremacy is the idea that white people are better and more deserving of wealth, power, and privilege than people of color. ’Cause I can tell you one thing, a lot of people are disappointed that I don’t have braids, I’m covered in tattoos and I go to metal shows. And the old school tends to be a lot of gatekeeping, out of touch, appropriative, older white dudes that are like “this is our thing” and “this is our culture” and “the Polynesian people should be grateful that we are aware they exist because we respect their culture and we value them.” But there are also a lot of newer people that are more cocktail-oriented that aren’t into neocolonialism or colonial roleplay or LARPing or whatever. My family is from the island of Guåhan, or Guam. I’m just sort of trying to reconcile, like, is it OK that I don’t feel great going into these bars? How the Cable Car Became a Modern Classic, Mastering the Espresso Martini With Patrick Smith, Without Filipino Bartenders, There Is No Tiki, Most Imaginative Bartender Canvas Project: James Socci. Read White Gods, White Researchers, White Lies here! And my family is also Georgian, from the country… I have been bartending for almost two decades and now I’ve crossed over to the brand and marketing side, currently I’m the BA [brand ambassador] for Ming River Baijiu. SJ: As messed up as it may be, I think there is a little bit of validity to the fact that Polynesian pop and tiki allowed for people to open themselves up to Pasifika cultures… The majority didn’t do it and don’t care about it, but there have been the few that have gone on to do the work to further understand why these things are problematic. If we want to change things, I think creating experiential bar[s] is different and that’s worth changing. This book is an in-depth study of how Heyerdahl’s most famous expedition became one of the founding myths of the post-war world. Through my mother I am a descendant of the people enslaved at the plantations of Mount Vernon and Arlington House. Because at the end of the day people are trying to create these wonderful bar experiences, [yet] I noticed a sort of creeping dread when I would have to go into these types of [tiki] bars for the brands that I’ve worked with in the past. But I’ll be a 100 percent honest—for the Pacific Islands, for Oceania, for Pasifika, the problems that we face in this world are greater than tiki. Is that just something that I’m supposed to deal with? … You have to think about who that [tiki] fantasy is oriented around. This meeting has stirred the interest of various biographers and researchers, who, perhaps, anticipate a connection between Heyerdahl’s white race of culture bearers and his connection to a Nazi raciologist. Pirate culture, which is a hairline away from Tiki Culture, gained popularity, and the two started to overlap in a wonderfully adventurous way. SJ: I’m a big believer in the idea that for any culture to survive, it has to adapt and it has to evolve… so I tend to believe in the good in people in that sense, and in the good in people nowadays to move forward with new knowledge and to try and do better. Past societies were different, and they will never fit if we try to interpret them with our standards. Most are well-argued, but some contains many errors and personal interpretations. Except for suspicion of plagiarism, which made headlines in some Norwegian news media, this is the reviewers’ main problem with the book. Understanding the types of racism and racists is far more useful than simply labeling people as racist or not. If you think it might be a problem, it probably is. The Kon-Tiki had six men on its crew including Thor Heyerdahl 6. These theories are highly debatable propositions and understanding what is going on with Tiki culture is a perfect example of their flaws as a framework. Both of my parents immigrated here: my dad from Guadalajara, Mexico, my mom from Tula, American Samoa or Tula, Tutuila. This is to the point. Some paragraphs in. I’ve been in the beverage industry for … about five years. It claims that all his various theories of cultural connection and migrations are connected in a hyperdiffusionist’s search for a white master race. The book purports to be an in-depth study of Heyerdahl’s theoretical framework. It’s not oriented around someone like me. Far from appropriating Polynesian culture, Tiki culture was the manifestation of how the romance of the South Pacific colonized the American psyche. Cultural racism exists when there is a widespread acceptance of stereotypes concerning different ethnic or population groups. Then care about our issues… Pay attention to our peoples, pay attention to our diaspora, pay attention to the issues that we have going on right now. In an ensuing debate, Eirik Stokke and Reidar Solsvik, wrote a lengthy review of the book which was made public by the Kon-Tiki Museum. CT: Right now, we’ve got this changing thing… There’s the old school and then there are the newer people. Such images may generate headlines, but white supremacy manifests in other ways that are far more insidious and damaging. In recent years, critical readings of Thor Heyerdahl’s works claim his theories themselves uses terminology and models of explanation that is racist. Design. I care more about that than whether tiki exists or not… At the end of the day, I try not to get too down on it and just continue to focus on the process of educating people about … why these things are problematic. Could you find racism in Thor Heyerdahl’s theories? It is particularly Heyerdahl’s theory on the settlement of Polynesia, most comprehensively described in American Indians in the Pacific: The Theory Behind the Kon-Tiki Expedition (1952) that has attracted attention. Mariah Kunkel: It is really nice to be able to talk to both of you at one time, because I have a lot of experience working with each of you, but not necessarily together. But even within those communities … there still needs to be a lot of conversations about cultural appreciation and working with each other instead of profiting off of the pain of another group of people. Originally used in ancient Polynesian and Hawaiian culture, Tiki masks are hand-carved, wooden decorative masks intended to represent deities and bestow specific traits upon the setting in which they're placed. It is a force that is engrained in our culture and operating modes. The Kon-Tiki was constructed out of balsa logs 4. CT: Even the name is annoying for me because as much as we want to switch it to “tropical,” we can’t actually start the conversations and [reach] the people that we want unless we refer to it as “tiki.” Our main focus is to lead by example, to work with different bartenders from different cultures and kind of be like, “You can create an experience that takes you somewhere else without stealing from somebody else’s culture and community.”. In fact, many sociologists argue that race is a social construct , no more inherent in our world than the difference between rap and jazz. MK: You have the whole culture as costume situation, which impacts many people, indigenous people especially. However, this one-time visit is the only contact between the two on record. More recently, the matter has been addressed by Victor Melander, in his 2019 paper David’s Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Reception of Thor Heyerdahl’s ‘Kon-Tiki Theory’. Although people aren’t, generally, shouting “blood and soil” while lighting tiki torches at most Pagan gatherings, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the space is inclusive. Why has this argument not framed the discussion of Thor Heyerdahl’s work and theories until now? Actually, with the new school, I often see a lot of those bars being more thoughtless… There are some that open very carelessly with no thought and no respect to the culture, to the people of the past, and that have no desire to even do that work and research and are only attempting to profit off of this most recent wave of tiki by being like, “Oh, we’re a tiki bar, too. I have an enjoyment of the mid-century Americanized tiki theme stuff. The main sail was 15 ft by 18 ft on a yard of bamboo stems lashed together 5. Kon-Tiki was named after the Inca sun god, Viracocha, for whom "Kon-Tiki" was said to be an old name 5. SJ: The drinks genre itself is rooted in colonialism and imperialism. Woman charged with murder of Tiki Laverdiere chooses trial by jury; ... Minister Bardish Chagger had previously announced the federal government would be investing $15 million for 85 anti-racism initiatives across the country. ... Ward-Schur said Elders have long maintained culture is key to positive self-esteem. Despite its retro reputation, Tiki culture is alive and well at the Tiki-Ti. Not even showcased, that’s not the right word, but reclaiming your power in the situation. Our islands may cease to exist in the next 10, 20, 50, 100 years. This belief was at the very heart of why he studied cultural history. Same Racism, Different Generation As much as I detest early Tiki culture, at least Trader Vic’s had the decency to change their problematic ways. This means first of all that the figure of the Tiki, in carved and in … Our cultures, our languages, our islands may be lost to climate change. Reaching an audience of more than 16 million, we are the nation's largest luxury media company offering leading brands access to the most affluent audiences in the most prominent cities across the U.S. In this book, Heyerdahl claims that the easternmost islands of Polynesia were first settled by a white race of megalith builders, or ‘culture bearers’, whom he traced to America, and potentially through Meso-America, back to Africa. This review contains new information on a key event in Heyerdahl’s life, and comments many of the general accusations leveled against his research. However, for every pharagraph you find that could be interpreted as racist, you will also find a paragraph demonstrating that Thor Heyerdahl did not view ‘black’ or ‘primitive’ as inferior in any way. Every year a group of fresh faces moves into the park board offices for several weeks. Like tiki bars of the 50's and such--Trader Vics, et al. Tagged: And then from there either creating something new out of the ashes or evolving. Something that felt good, something that encouraged actual representation and input from the people whose cultures are being taken from. Tiki’s reckoning has been stewing for decades, bubbling just below the surface of the revival’s most recent wave. So, if you don’t have any sort of truths or real human beings to counteract that … it’s easy to play on stereotypes. Cultural racism can be defined as societal beliefs and customs that promote the assumption that the products of a given culture, including the language and traditions of that culture are superior to those of other cultures. No, you cannot, but as any complex question it can be qualified and discussed. For critics of tiki, it was an ironic turn of events, offering an opportunity to engage in discussion about the ways in which one group’s appropriation of another group’s aesthetic might similarly incense individuals from the aesthetic’s originating, parent culture. The answer can be summed up in four points: However, more importantly, Thor Heyerdahl never portrayed himself as a racist. I think this is also part of a big conversation in the whole entire industry that needs to happen around the stereotypes and racism that we find even within agave spirits and Mexican drinking holidays… We need to create a greater awareness so as things trend in and out, people will be inclined to be less terrible about it. Some events in Thor Heyerdahl’s life, like his contact with Hans F. K. Günther, is particularly affected by this, leading the author to interpretations that goes far beyond current evidence. But again, I think that there needs to be a lot of transparency in the history of rum and colonization and the fact that every single bar in America is on stolen land and maybe cement that has my ancestors’ bones in it. It has always used the prevailing local culture to grab as many people as it can. MK: You have to consider tiki has been sort of this trend that has had waves that have receded, gone away, and then come back again. In the 1920s, when the Klan was four million people and 10 percent of the state of Indiana, that era is characterized not only by what you would expect now, meaning White supremacism, racism, nativism, and violence, but also by 1920s cultural markers. Here, Tom, Kunkel and Jimenez talk about the problems with challenging tiki’s status quo and what the future of the genre looks like. Could you find racism in Thor Heyerdahl’s theories? Often the kind of racism that we face in our circles is more causal, more at the level of microaggressions. As Indigenous People's Day/Columbus Day just passed, I couldn't talk about racist and sexist Disney examples without talking about Tiger Lily and the Red Man in Peter Pan. Culture; Gear; Ideas; Science; Security; Joe Flahert y. It seems to always resurface when times are hard, when people need, you know, some sort of escape into a beautiful place and to be transported to tropical islands. “In my heart of hearts, I would love for something entirely new to be constructed. We are experiencing an error, please try again. MK: What do we think the current status quo is in terms of tiki? It is extremely uncomfortable to see photo after photo of white people decked out in other cultures’ garb. I always come back to the Enchanted Tiki Room [at Disneyland]. It’s totally unfair to look at it from a hundred-and-fifty odd years later and pass judgement on what those people did without knowing what their values were and what the laws were even. In 1936-37, Thor Heyerdahl and his first wife, Liv, spent a year on the island of Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas. Since this paper corrects some basic facts relating to Thor Heyerdahl’s connection with Hans F. K. Günther, and details some of the evidence found in Heyerdahl’s writings, pointing to him not holding a racist view of cultural development and prehistoric migrations, we make this paper available in a translated and slightly rewritten version: White Gods, White Researchers, White Lies, by Eirik Stokke and Reidar Solsvik (2019). He has for the past few years critically examined the origin and subsequent development of Thor Heyerdahl’s theory on the settlement of Polynesia, and is currently finishing his Ph.D. on the subject at the Australian National University. But they actually perpetuate racism by simply becoming "a receptacle for potential and actual abuse," instead of examining their racially-biased behavior. Its founders, veteran New York bartenders Austin Hartman and Chockie Tom, were motivated by the genre’s persistent issues of cultural appropriation and overt racism. No, you cannot, but as any complex question it can be qualified and discussed. I just want to help to uncover and amplify real stories, real people and help people understand why some of these things are harmful in terms of, you know, generational trauma and replicating colonization through tiki, and through hospitality environments that are not necessarily very hospitable. ”. Something that felt good, something that encouraged actual representation and input from the people whose cultures are being taken from. If racism is defined as a personal conviction that some races are better than others, then there is absolutely no racism in Thor Heyerdahl’s writings. Chockie Tom: My family is Pomo from California and Paiute from Nevada—Walker River to be exact, which is most noted for Wovoka, who was responsible for the Ghost Dance. Sometimes I worry that this will just lose steam before any positive change can be effected. White Gods, White Researchers, White Lies, The terminology and models-of-explanation, used by Heyerdahl in, Thor Heyerdahl, who was a self-educated man in the fields of ethnology and archaeology, was already prior to publication of, The “value hierarchy between superior (white) and inferior (brown and black) people” leading critics to “emphasise racism as a key factor in Heyerdahl’s work” (Melander 2019:2) is not complete story. MK: To me it comes back to understanding how tiki sort of adds to the representation of colonized people, of indigenous women and how that continues to communicate how we value these cultures, these people—women especially—and I would really like to move past that. Surprisingly light on the fascinating history of tiki, surprisingly heavy on a self-serving, self-mythologizing narrative that nearly completely obscures the inherent racism of tiki culture and the strange cultural appropriation of it. The most recent work is Thor Heyerdahl and the Search for Atlantis (2019), published in Norwegian. doom tiki, pasifika project, Tiki. That kind of turned into leading a seminar called Making Waves: Tiki Through a Polynesian Lens. The main point is that it depends on how you define racism. Say white supremacy and many people envision white hoods or tiki torches. CT: I don’t think there’s a future for tiki in its current form, change is necessary. MK: I think [progress] does require a lot of conversation, a lot of opening up to uncomfortable situations. I think there needs to be more of a conscience about how that drink got into your glass. CT: Part of the reason that we like to cause problems by using satanic iconography [in Doom Tiki] and are kind of disrespecting your religious iconography is because we want to provoke people into actually having to think about what’s problematic. It’s what causes an awful lot of misunderstandings trying to apply a different set of standards to a different, a different nation really. And, here, one would hope that the matter could be put to rest, but unfortunately this seems not to be the case. It’s really about filtering down some of this activism and some of these conversations to see how we can impact a larger audience. So to me, even when I talk to people about tiki and when I try to educate people on our islands and our land and our people and our culture, if I’m being 100 percent honest, I’m like, “You guys can keep tiki if you want tiki,” but recognize that the cultures that you’ve taken a lot of inspiration from—if that’s what you want to call it—cultures that you’ve taken a lot from to create this aesthetic have modern issues that are seriously threatening the future of our people. Those invested in tiki culture are in it for a kitschy cultural fantasy — an imagined lifestyle associated with Jimmy Buffett and piña coladas garnished with tiny umbrellas. To me, there’s no way around it. Victor Melander represents the most recent research on the subject. The book is riddled with the writer’s personal assumptions and is affected by inadequate research. CT: I think a good general rule is: Don’t be an asshole. Each mask represents a different purpose. I don’t necessarily think that there is a checklist of things that you should or should not have in your bar, but I think it’s really about considering some of these greater, more complex themes that run through these establishments, and the history of colonization and imperialism in the Pacific. MK: I think because our numbers are not quite as great as perhaps some other cultures, that sometimes … people [only] encounter our cultures through a lens of media, like Peter Pan cartoons, or Lilo & Stitch, you know? 8. From time to time writers and researchers make this claim. Günther’s wife was a friend of Liv’s mother and the young couple wanted an insider’s help to sell their collection of zoological specimens and ethnological and archaeological artefacts. Last year Eirik Stokke and Reidar Solsvik reviewed the most problematic arguments put forward in the book. His work originated and reflected his view of humanity. If you want to do something you can be respectful about it, but you need to talk to people—and not like this monolith of a cultural idea that you’ve built up in your head. And I don’t necessarily mean slash and burn because honestly, this segment of the hospitality industry provides a lot of jobs for people that are of Pacific descent… It’s a very tricky, nuanced situation, but in my heart of hearts, I would love for something entirely new to be constructed. In a new series of conversations that we’re publishing on PUNCH, we’re asking leading voices in drinks to have a discussion about the topics that are most important to them. Modern Tiki has a lot of leeways to play with pop culture ideas, but an authentic Tiki environment should always be recognizable as such. Frantz Fanon's speech (in French) before the First Congress of Negro Writers and Artists in Paris in September 1956 and published in the Special Issue of Presence Africaine, June-November, 1956, remains a classic study of Racism and Culture. It’s not a thing. CT: I’ve been trying to lead by example by doing something completely different: creating escape differently and allowing different people from different backgrounds to redefine how they want to be showcased. Racism, on the other hand, is not evolutionary at all. While Tiki style is based on a fantasy, it is not a free-for-all of exotic influences. Let’s open a tiki bar and not think twice about anything that we put in it.”, “If it is appreciation that you have for our people, for our islands, for our cultures, for this aesthetic, for our words-then help us. White liberals, who unconsciously seek self-punishment for historical oppression, appear racially sensitive. … I personally identify as Black and Indigenous. 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