Graduate Students

Current MA Students (as of Fall 2015)

Terrance Williams

I am from Clinton, North Carolina. My family and I are members of the Coharie Indian tribe of Eastern, North Carolina. We descend from the aboriginal tribe of the Neusiok Indians. I really enjoy being in Hawaii and I am very impressed with the vast resources in Indigenous Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I am a new graduate student in the Political Science Masters Degree Program with a focus on Indigenous Politics. I am concerned with the effects of colonialism and assimilation on the Native American Identity. I completed my BA in Political Science with a focus on International Affairs at North Carolina Central University and my JD at The Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

Kanani Durant

Current Ph.D. Students (as of Fall 2015)

Luʻukia Archer

Mary Tuti Baker
Ph.D. Student

Mary Tuti Baker comes from Ko‘olaupoko district of O‘ahu. Her mother's mother is from Hawaii island, her mother's father from Anahola, Kauai and father’s family is from the gulf coast of Texas. She grew up in Kailua and now lives in Waimanalo. Her research interests focus on indigenous economies in decolonial futures. The questions she poses in her dissertation project are: If the capitalist mode of production is the inevitable trajectory of human development why are politically active, culturally engaged Kanaka Maoli (along with other Indigenous Peoples throughout the globe) locked in an ongoing challenge to capitalism’s economic base and ideological superstructure? In what ways do these anti-capitalist acts of resistance create the possibilities for alternative place-specific Indigenous futures?


Donna Ann Kameha‘iku Camvel
Ph.D. Candidate

Kameha‘iku Camvel comes from the ‘ili of ‘Ioleka‘a in the He‘e‘ia Ahupua‘a located in the moku of Ko‘olaupoko, O‘ahu island. She and her family, the Līhu‘e, Kahanu, Pāoa, Kea, Lono ‘Ohana, maintain a kuleana that has been in their family for over one hundred and seventy four years. As a mother, wife, tūtū , practitioner of oli, composer of mele, wahine mahi‘ai, and student, ‘Ioleka‘a has played a foundational role in her life. Her master’s thesis, “Land and Genealogy of ‘Ioleka‘a: Mapping An Indigenous Identity,” served as take-off point for her current doctoral research; a dissertation that will examine and analyze the term Mo‘o as a function of ‘ōiwi land management, particularly associated with wai. Using Papakū Makawalu as both a theoretical and methodological authority with which to interpret mo‘ōlelo, pule, oli, and mele, the connection of mo‘o to wai becomes intriguingly complex and integrated with ‘āina. Her research is backdrops the mokus of Ko‘olaupoko and Ko‘olauloa, but is specific to Ha‘iku, ‘Ioleka‘a and Pa‘auiki, all ‘ilis of He‘e‘ia.


Megumi Chibana
Ph.D. Candidate

Megumi was born and raised in Okinawa. Attracted by a meshed story of Okinawan Diaspora and global indigenous resistance to colonialism, I moved to Hawaiʻi in 2004. My research interest revolves around the intersection between land use change, agrarian movements, indigenous politics and culture in the Asia-Pacific, and trans-indigenous approaches. My dissertation research explores the politics of farming and community governance in Okinawa.  


Lianne Charlie
Ph.D. Student

Lianne Marie Leda Charlie is a descendant of the Tagé Cho Hudän (Big River People), Northern Tutchone speaking people of the Yukon. She was raised by her mom, a second generation Canadian of Danish and Icelandic ancestry on the unceded territories of the Lekwugen speaking people in what is commonly known as Victoria, British Columbia. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Indigenous Politics at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa and developing a theory of Indigenous collage. 


Mary Kaliko Correa

Kahikina DeSilva

Lorenz Gonschor
Ph.D. Candidate

Of Masurian and German ancestry, I was born in Dresden, Germany. I first studied anthropology, political science and history at the University of Tübingen and then obtained a master’s degree in Pacific Islands studies from the University of Hawaiʻi in 2008 with a thesis comparing the institutional history and perspectives of future political independence of Hawaiʻi, French Polynesia and Rapa Nui (Easter Island). My current research is situated at the intersection of the fields of Comparative Politics, Studies of State Formation, Indigenous Politics and International Relations. My dissertation, tentatively titled “A Power in the World: The Hawaiian Kingdom as a Model of Hybrid Statecraft in Nineteenth-Century Oceania,” examines the transformation of native polities in the Pacific islands under foreign influences into hybrid political systems continuing aspects of indigenous governance but also selectively adopting aspects of Western-style nation-states. Within this framework, the focus is on the importance of the Hawaiian Kingdom as a model for other archipelagos to emulate. 


Derek Kauanoe
Ph.D. Candidate

Derek Kauanoe's research interests include the indigenous rights framework of the Hawaiian Kingdom that developed statutory laws that were exclusively applicable to Native Hawaiians yet held to be constitutional by the Hawaiian Kingdom Supreme Court as well as finding ways to incorporate Native Hawaiian customary laws into modern-day decision-making more specifically how Ke Kanawai Mamalahoe (Law of the Splintered Paddle) can be used today in meaningful way for lawmakers and other decision makers.  Four years before enrolling in the Indigenous Politics program, he graduated from the William S. Richardson School of Law where he earned a certificate in Native Hawaiian Law.  Professionally, Derek currently works at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).  He enjoys the opportunity of incorporating what he's learned from Indigenous Politics and law school into his current work.  In the Fall 2015 semester, he will co-teach Federal Indian Law at the law school.  Prior to joining OHA in 2014, Derek worked as a Faculty Specialist at the law school specifically with Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law.  


No‘eau Peralto
Ph.D. Candidate

Aloha mai kākou. ʻO wau nō ʻo Noʻeau Peralto. No Waiākea Uka, ma Hilo, ma Hawaiʻi nui kuauli mai au, a he mamo nō hoʻi kēia na ka ʻāina kaulana i ka makani Koholālele e pā aku nei mai nā pali lele koaʻe o Hāmākua a i Kīpahulu i nā Hono a ʻo Piʻilani. I am a recent graduate of the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, and I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science with a concentration on Indigenous Politics. Actively involved in community-based research and activism in Hāmākua, Hawaiʻi, where my ʻohana is from, I am passionately engaged in deepening my knowledge of mālama ʻāina, kālaiʻāina, moʻolelo ʻōiwi, and ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi as tools for cultivating critical consciousness, exercising our commitment to social transformation, and re-establishing kuleana to our kulāiwi.


Ponipate Rokolekutu

Kerry Kamakaoka’ilima Long

Ph.D. Student

Aloha mai. O wau nō ʻo Kerry Kamakaoka'ilima Long. In Hilo are my birth sands. The ʻāina that raised me is the greater Seattle area, territories of the Duwamish and Snohomish people. I returned to Hilo in 2003. While living with my grandmother, enrolling in Hawaiian Studies at Hawaiʻi Community College and dancing hula, I learned that what I previously saw as progressive or even radical politics were actually just normal principles of society and governance in Hawaiʻi during the times of my kūpuna. I received both my Bachelors and Masters degree from Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies. My Masters thesis, completed in the Spring of 2014, looked at the interconnectedness of ancestral and national identity prior to the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1893 and how a eugenics movement in early US-occupied Hawaiʻi aimed to unravel both in service of white supremacy, Americanization and laizze-fair capitalism. I am currently a PhD student in the Indigenous Politics track of Political Science here at UH Mānoa and my research interests include the politics of ʻŌiwi women in relation to law, land and power in Hawaiʻi, political and legal tensions between the state and the growing Hawaiian independence movement, and the relationship between direct action and law in land-based sovereignty struggles in Hawaiʻi. True to the region I was raised, I enjoy any coffee, good beer and loud music.


Aaron Cornelison

Ph.D. Student

he kanaka ʻōiwi au. The name above was given as a form of _christian heteropatriarchy. The sands of my birth, or my beloved native soil, is Waiʻanae. This is the home of my mother, her father, and his father, all of whom cultivated kalo deep in the valley, near Kaʻala. I was taken from this place, though, at a very young age and forced into the diaspora. Alienated from the stories, histories, and memories of my ancestors, I came of age within Midwestern America. It has been about ten years since I returned home. My political stance is that of presence: an enduring, physical presence of indigeneity on ancestral lands. At the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo I received my BA in philosophy, and then was granted admission into the PhD program here in the Political Science Department at Mānoa. My dissertation research examines the ethical and political implications of _christianity and its influence on this place, Hawaiʻi nei, where it has become a particularly strong article of faith. At the intersection of _christianity and kanaka maoli lifeworlds, I examine philosophically the radical difference and unbridgeable chasms between the two. Through a genealogical method I trace the origins of that form of _christianity which colonized this place to Enlightenment and Platonic principles of rational discourse. Not only is the doctrine of _christianity in clear contradiction to indigenous kanaka ideologies; but moreover, I argue that, like a disease which has spread over time, our believing in it has made us – as a people – quite ill. That _christiantiy has caused the weakening of our physical bodies and has made our thinking dogmatic and complacent; that it is a force against genealogy, the ancestor, and all things sacred to this place; and that we ought to rid ourselves of this poison as a way of anti-colonial resistance for the sake of our future: these are the aspects of my project. This is my polemic: On the Genealogy of Hawaiian Morality.       


Mechelins Kora Iechad
Ph.D. Student

Mechelins Kora Iechad is from the village of Irrai on the main island of Belau. Raised by her grandparents, she was taught the traditional ways of Belau. These teaching have played a major role in her life and in her work. Her research in the Indigenus Politics Program focuses on establishing ways in which Belauans can use traditional methods of sustainability to address the issues of climate change and food security within their islands. It is through these traditional methods that respect and interconnect Belauans to thier environment that she believes Belauans will be able to prospone the major effects of climate change in Belau and address their current food security issues.


Kahala Johnson
Ph.D. Student

Kahala Johnson is a first year graduate student in the Political Science doctorate program at the University of Hawaiia at Manoa. Concentrating in Indigenous Politics, Futures Studies, and Political Theory, his academic work is concerned with native relational governances beyond the nation-state, capitalism, and juridical constructs. Currently, he is working on decolonizing image-nations through the genres of horror, fantasy, and speculative fiction as well as examining queer(ed) aesthetic performance as a fecund grounds for anarcha-indigenous governmentality modules.


Kalaniakea Wilson
Ph.D. Student

Aloha kakou, O Kalaniakea kou inoa.  He elele au no Ko Hawaii Pae Aina a e hoolaha ana i ka moolelo no ka hookumu ana o ka Hae Hawaii i ka makahiki 1816.  He mea nui keia makahiki 2016, He hoolaulea elua haneli makahiki no ka Hae Hawaii.  I’m a kanaka maoli in the Hawaiian Kingdom trying to share and celebrate Hawaiian traditions and practices at the highest public educational institution in the Hawaiian Kingdom.  I placed three flag poles on Queen Liliuokalani’s birthday September 2, 2015 at three ahu on the UH Manoa campus in a student collaboration and free education events held at UH Manoa and UH Hilo.  My flags to honor and inspire the 200th anniversary of Kamehameha I’s creation of the Hae Hawaii were stolen.


Kenneth Gofigan Kuper
Ph.D. Student

Guåhu si Kenneth Gofigan Kuper. Chamorro yu’ yan taotao Guåhan yu’.  Hu guguifi gi lina’lå’-hu na para u nina’lå’lå’ i fino’ Chamoru ta’lo. Enague i hinangai-hu guini gi hilo’ tåno’. Hu gof hongge na yanggen u fanlibre i Manchamoru, debi di bai in na’suha i hineksen-måmi yan bai in na’magåhet na “hami la’mon” gi lina’la’-måmi giya Guåhan.

My name is Kenneth Gofigan Kuper. I am a Chamorro from the island of Guåhan in the Mariana Islands with ancestry rooting from the villages of Humåtak, Talo’fo’fo’, the Mariana island of Saipan, and Germany. My passion and purpose in life is to help in the revitalization of Fino’ Chamoru, or the Chamorro language, and to help bring self-determination to Guåhan. My research attempts to explore the reasons why despite there being Chamorro language infrastructure and resources, intergenerational transmission of the language remains low. What are the colonial factors preventing effective revitalization and what does this say about the larger disturbances colonization placed into i Hinasson Chamoru or the Chamorro thought? I not only study language revitalization/shift as a site to better understand colonization/decolonization, but also analyze language revitalization’s important role as a liberatory tool in the larger decolonization movement. I also attempt to look at the role of militarization in this process as nearly 1/3 of Guåhan is unjustifiably occupied by the american military. I am simply here in the university to gain skills and ideas that will ultimately help the Chamorro be truly free one day. I am also deeply grateful to the Kanaka Maoli for it is their land in which I write this.