Wednesday, April 6th | 12:00 pm 1:00 pm | Tokioka Room, Moore 310



Join us for the spring 2016 Oceania Ensemble speaker series with


Languages and Literatures of Europe and the Americas (LLEA), University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa


Cross-cultural Encounters between Italy and Hawai’i in the 1880s


In this talk I look at Italian baroness Gina Sobrero, who traveled from Italy to Hawai‘i in 1887-1888 to follow her husband, Hawaiian political figure Robert Wilcox. Sobrero’s travel narrative, published in English in 2007, helps illuminate the particularly complex period of Hawai‘i’s history that led to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, but it is filtered by the baroness’s problematic representation of Hawai‘i and its people. Here I juxtapose Sobrero’s trip with Wilcox’s own trip to Italy (1880-1887), along with Kalākaua’s larger plan to build a strong Hawaiian nation that was equal to other nations in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific. By doing so I hope to move beyond Sobrero’s “Western eyes” and towards a Hawaiian perspective on this cross-cultural encounter.

Incoronata (Nadia) Inserra is originally from Naples, Italy, and holds a PhD in English from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where she currently teaches in the Departments of English and LLEA. While still in Italy, she started doing research on Hawai‘i’s literatures and cultures and has published this work both in English and Italian. Her current research interests include transnational Italian cultural studies and folklore, but most of her work is comparative in nature and it often involves both Italy and Hawai‘i.


Oceania Ensemble is sponsored by the Center for Pacific Islands Studies and the Departments of French, Languages and Literatures of Europe and the Americas, and the Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures, and is an initiative dedicated to increasing awareness and visibility of both UH and international creative and critical scholarship and the arts in the French-speaking Pacific.


Oceania Ensemble_Inserra flyer