Professor Noenoe Silva




I was born on O'ahu and am of Kanaka Maoli descent. I grew up in California and returned to Hawai'i 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 associate professor. I now teach courses in Hawai'i and indigenous politics, as well as Hawaiian, and two undergraduate 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, won the Baldridge prize for best book in history by a resident of Hawai'i in 2003–2004.

Research Interests

I continue to be interested in recovering Kanaka Maoli 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.

Courses Taught

Hawai'i Politics II (POLS 302)

This course examines issues in contemporary local politics, with an emphasis on Native Hawaiian issues. In Spring 2002, we studied issues of land and sovereignty, land and the U.S. military, the prison system, the corporate media and alternatives to it. In Spring 2004, the emphasis is on differing conceptions and representations of land and 'āina, and offers a comparison with Maori land struggles in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Indigenous Politics (POLS 304)

The course begins with a review of 19th and 20th century colonialism, including readings from some of the most influential anti–colonial authors, perhaps Frantz Fanon, Albert Memmi, Aime Cesaire, and/or others. We then study the early history of the United Nations, concentrating on the processes developed for decolonization. From this historical context, we look at the late 20th century emergence of indigenous peoples' movements, concentrating on the Pacific. The second half of the course includes a variety of readings and videos written and produced by members of indigenous groups. Finally, we develop questions on the viability of international law to address the needs of indigenous peoples, look at proposed reforms, and (I hope) come up with some new ideas.

Indigenous Politics Seminar (POLS 682)

The course examines various ideas of indigeneity within contemporary political theory, especially as articulated by members of indigenous groups. We also study some ongoing struggles, including language loss, land, poverty created by the globalized economy, and biocolonialism. Texts may include Political Theory and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples edited by Duncan Ivison, et al., Indigenous Peoples in International Law by S. James Anaya, and articles by David Gegeo, Haunani–Kay Trask, Moana Jackson, and others.

Politics in Hawaiian Language Media (POLS 344, cross–listed as HAW 445)

This course is a historical survey of Hawaiian new media with an emphasis on the political content. The history of the colonization of Hawai'i unfolds as students read articles written by Kanaka Maoli in Hawaiian from 1834 to 1948. Students conduct original research using the skills and knowledge developed in the course. Course is taught in Hawaiian, with a prerequisite of HAW 302.

Political Thought in Hawaiian (POLS 303C, cross–listed as HAW 428)

This course examines political thought in Hawaiian through study of primary source materials, including constitutions, petitions, political essays, editorials, and poetry and song. Students gain proficiency in the language of politics and government in Hawaiian, familiarity with major political figures in Hawaiian history, and a foundation for further study and research in this area. The course is taught in Hawaiian, with a prerequisite of HAW 302.


Curriculum Vitae (link to UH Indigenous Politics profile)

Political Science – Indigenous Politics Program

Pele's Calling the Winds in Poepoe