Noenoe K. Silva


I was born on Oʻahu and am of Kanaka Maoli descent. I grew up in California and returned to Hawaiʻi nei in 1985. In 1991 I earned my bachelor’s in Hawaiian language, and immediately began teaching Hawaiian here at UH Mānoa. In 1993 I completed a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies, and in 1999 earned my doctorate in political science. I joined the faculty of political science in Fall 2001, and now serve as professor. I teach courses in Hawaiʻi, Native Hawaiian, and indigenous politics, as well as Hawaiian language, including three courses that are cross–listed in political science and Hawaiian. My book, Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism, published by Duke University Press, was elected the most influential book in Native American and Indigenous Studies in the first decade of the 21st century, by the membership of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association

Research Interests

I continue to be interested in recovering Kanaka Maoli political history and literature through reading the under–used texts in Hawaiian from the 19th and early 20th centuries. I am also interested in the possibilities of developing theory from within Hawaiian epistemologies and worldviews. I am currently working on a book on Hawaiian intellectual history.

Courses Taught

POLS 301 Hawai'i Politics (3)

Introduction to and critical study of institutions, governments, and political processes in Hawai'i. Attends to race, class, gender, sexuality, indigeneity and nationality. Grounded in Native Hawaiian perspectives, with an emphasis on comparative study and dialogue. Pre: any 100- or 200-level POLS course, or consent. DS

POLS 302 Native Hawaiian Politics (3)

Critical study of issues in contemporary Native Hawaiian politics, with an emphasis on application and active engagement. Pre: any 100- or 200-level POLS course or consent. DS

POLS 303 (Alpha) Topics in Hawai'i Politics (3 credits)

Intensive examination of particular institutions, processes, and issues. (C) political thought in Hawaiian; Taught in Hawaiian;. Pre: HAW 302 (or concurrent) for (C) only, sophomore standing or higher or consent. ((C) Cross-listed as HAW 428). 303C requires HAW 302 or higher as a prerequisite, and it fulfills the DH core requirement.

POLS 304 Indigenous Politics (POLS 304)

Conceptualizing politics from the perspective of indigenous epistemologies, philosophies, language, and social and political movement. Pre: sophomore standing or higher, or consent.

POLS 309 Politics of Indigenous Language Revitalization (3 credits)

Study of the importance and processes of language revitalization for indigenous peoples in Hawai'i, the Pacific, Asia, and North America. Fulfills the DS core requirement. (Taught in alternate years)

POLS 344 Na Politika ma ka Nuhou Hawai'i - Politics in Hawaiian Language Media (3)

Study of Hawaiian news media with emphasis on political content. Taught in Hawaiian. Pre: HAW 302 (or concurrent) and one of 110, 120, 130, 170, or 171; or consent. (Cross-listed as HAW 445) DH

POLS 612 Hawaiian Political Thought: Theory and Method/Nā Manaʻo Politika Hawaiʻi (3 credits)

Study of Hawaiian political thought in writing from ca. 1825 to the present, with emphasis on theory and research methods. Taught in Hawaiian. Prerequisites: 303, HAW 402 and HAW 428; or consent. (Cross-listed as HAW 612).

POLS 620 Introduction to Indigenous Politics (3 credits)

Historical treatment of the contact between state and indigenous peoples and a survey of contemporary indigenous political initiatives: social movements, media, indigenous studies programs, and events. A-F only.

POLS 621 Politics of Indigenous Representation (3 credits)

Politics of indigenous representations in media, literature, and academic scholarship.

POLS 642 Indigenous Peoples and Western Imperialism (3 credits)

Historical examination of U.S. and European imperialisms, including national narratives, politics, and impacts upon indigenous peoples in the Americas, Pacific, and Asia. Repeatable one time.

POLS 684 Contemporary Native Hawaiian Politics (3 credits)

Study of political and social movements, political status, national and cultural identities, and issues of representation of Native Hawaiians.

POLS 686 Politics of Hawaiʻi (3 credits)

Examinations from several perspectives of the political, economic, and cultural forces that historically formed Hawaiʻi and contemporary political themes, issues, and processes.

POLS 720 Seminar: Indigenous Theory (3)

Pre-announced topics may include gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial theory, colonial discourse analysis, globalization, historiography; emphasis on indigenous epistemologies and the work of native scholars. Repeatable one time.

Articles & Publications


Silva, Noenoe K. Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism, Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.

Silva, Noenoe K. The Power of the Steel-Tipped Pen: Reconstructing Native Hawaiian Intellectual History, Durham: Duke University Press, 2017


Goldberg-Hiller, Jonathan and Noenoe K. Silva. “The Botany of Emergence: Kanaka Ontology and Biocolonialism in Hawai’i,” NAIS 2:2, Fall 2015 (In press), 50%

Silva, Noenoe K. Mana Hawai’i and Politics. In New Mana: Transformations of a Classic Concept in Pacific Languages and Cultures ed. by Matt Tomlinson and Ty Kāwika Tengan. (Forthcoming from ANU Press.)

Silva, Noenoe K. Hawaiian Literature in Hawaiian: An Overview. In The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature, ed. by James H. Cox and Daniel Heath Justice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Silva, Noenoe K. Ke Kū’ē Kūpa’a Loa Nei K/Mākou (We Must Solemnly Protest): A Memoir of 1998. In A Nation Rising by ed. Noelani Goodyear Ka’ōpua, Ikaika Hussey, and Kahunawaika’ala Wright (with photographs by Ed Greevy), 2014.

Silva, Noenoe K. Nānā I Ke Kumu: Look to the Source,” Te Kaharoa 2, 2009.

Silva, Noenoe K. “Nā Hō’ike A Nā Ma’i Lepela: Testimonies of Hansen’s Disease Patients in Hawai’i 1865-1897,” with Pualeilani Fernandez, Hawaiian Journal of History 40, 2006. (50% each).

Silva, Noenoe K. “Kū’ē: Hawaiian Women’s Resistance to the Annexation.” Women in Hawai’i: Sites, Identities, Voices. Social Process in Hawai’i 38: 4-15. Honolulu: Department of Sociology, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, 1997.

Goldberg-Hiller, Jon and Noenoe K. Silva. 2011. “Sharks and Pigs: Animating Hawaiian Sovereignty against the Anthropological Machine.” In The South Atlantic Quarterly, 110:2. Eric Cheyfitz, N. Bruce Duthu, and Shari M. Huhndorf, eds. Durham: Duke University Press: 429-446.

“E Lawe I Ke Ō: An Analysis of Poepoe’s Account of Pele’s Calling of the Winds,” Hūlili Mulitdisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-being vol 6, 2010 (233-261). “Nānā I Ke Kumu: Look to the Source,” Te Kaharoa 2, 2009.

“Nā Hulu Kupuna: To Honor Our Intellectual Ancestors,” Biography 32, Winter 2009 (43-53).

“Early Hawaiian Newspapers and Kanaka Intellectual History” Hawaiian Journal of History 42, 2008 (105-134).

Silva, Noenoe K. 2004. “Talking Back to Law and Empire: Hula in Hawaiian Language Literature in 1861.” In Law and Empire in the Pacific. Donald Brenneis and Sally Engle Merry, eds. Santa Fe: School for American Research.

Silva, Noenoe K. 2004. “I Kū Mau Mau: How Kanaka Maoli Tried to Sustain Aloha ʻĀina Within the U.S. Political System.” In American Studies, 45 (3): 9-32.

Silva, Noenoe K. 2007. “Pele, Hiʻiaka, and Haumea: Representations of Women in Native Hawaiian Literature, 1861 & 1906.” In Women of Oceania, a special issue of Pacific Studies, 30 (1): 159–181.

Silva, Noenoe K. 2000. “He Kānāwai E Hoʻopau I Nā Hula Kuolo Hawaiʻi: The Political Economy of Banning the Hula (1857–1870).” In Hawaiian Journal of History, 34: 29–48.