Noenoe K. Silva

Dec 10, 2018

The Power of the Steel-Tipped Pen

Reconstructing Native Hawaiian Intellectual History

Duke University Press 2017

purchase at The process of colonialism seeks to demean Indigenous intellect and destroy Indigenous literary traditions. Reconstructing those legacies is thus an act of anti-colonial resistance. This is the impetus behind Noenoe K. Silva’s The Power of the Steel-Tipped Pen: Reconstructing Native Hawaiian Intellectual History (Duke University Press, 2017). Silva, Professor of Indigenous Politics at the University of Hawai’i-Manoa, focuses on two writers from Hawai’i’s tumultuous late nineteenth and early twentieth century past. Joseph Poepoe and Joseph Kanepu’u both wrote extensively in Hawaiian language newspapers at a time when American colonial officials worked hard to stamp out the Hawaiian language. Their writing thus constitutes a rare archive of Native Hawaiian language, narrative forms such as mo’olelo, and concepts such as ‘aina. The Power of the Steel-Tipped Pen is an argument against settler colonial power structures and an insistent reminder that Native societies across the world have intellectual histories of their own.

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