Jennifer Messelink

Music Research
Music History/Musicology
Doctoral Student
Current research: 

Research Area: Hawaiian Hapa haole music

My doctoral research plan is to examine the emergence of hapa haole music, a form of Hawaiian popular music, and its relationship to colonialism. My methodology will draw from several areas including postcolonial literature and the analysis of colonial discourse to conceptualize representational strategies of American identity in popular music during Hawaii’s territorial era (1898-1959). I will consider not only the political and cultural clashes that emerged between America and Hawaii during this period, but anxieties of a modernizing society which are explored in the theory of imperialist nostalgia, “where people mourn the passing of what they themselves have transformed” (Rosaldo, 1989). Furthermore, scholarship on politics, affect, and race will aid me in conceptualizing the political function of musical affects such as nostalgia, melancholy and sorrow, and how they came to be regarded as ennobling and morally virtuous in the context of colonialism. To conduct my research, I will utilize the Archives and Manuscripts Department at The University of Hawaii at Manoa, the Hawaii Collection in the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Centre and record liner notes from hapa haole recordings and out of print labels such as Hana Ola Records, Bell, 49th State Records, Mele, Trim, Trade Winds, Gold Coin—all of which contain primary source documentation of Hawaii’s cultural, political and musical history.


Ph.D. Musicology

Graduate supervision: 

Supervisor: David Brackett