In The Power of the Steel-tipped Pen, Noenoe K. Silva reconstructs the indigenous intellectual history of a culture where—using Western standards—none is presumed to exist. Silva examines the work of two lesser-known Hawaiian writers—Joseph Ho‘ona‘auao Kanepu‘u (1824–ca. 1885) and Joseph Moku‘ohai Poepoe (1852–1913)—to show how the rich intellectual history preserved in Hawaiian-language newspapers is key to understanding Native Hawaiian epistemology and ontology. In their newspaper articles, geographical surveys, biographies, historical narratives, translations, literatures, political and economic analyses, and poetic works, Kanepu‘u and Poepoe created a record of Hawaiian cultural history and thought in order to transmit ancestral knowledge to future generations. Celebrating indigenous intellectual agency in the midst of US imperialism, The Power of the Steel-tipped Pen is a call for the further restoration of native Hawaiian intellectual history to help ground contemporary Hawaiian thought, culture, and governance.
Silva is a professor of political science at UH Mānoa. Also an alumna, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian language, her master’s degree in library and information studies and her doctorate in political science. She teaches courses in Hawai‘i, Native Hawaiian and indigenous politics as well as Hawaiian language. Silva also authored Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism as well as numerous scholarly articles and research publications.
For more on The Power of the Steel-tipped Pen, visit the Duke University Press website.