David Hanlon

faculty profile photo

Professor and Department Chair

Pacific Islands, Micronesia, Ethnographic History

Office: Sakamaki B417/A203
Phone: (808) 956-6765 / 956-8358

Email: hanlon@hawaii.edu | histch@hawaii.edu

BA Holy Cross, 1970; MA Johns Hopkins 1976; PhD Hawaiʻi 1984

David Hanlon first came to the Pacific in 1970 with the Peace Corps. He and his wife Kathy served on the island of Pohnpei until 1973 as English language teachers in the village of Wone. They returned to the island in 1977 and taught at the Community College of Micronesia in Kolonia Town until 1980. While on island, Dr. Hanlon served as an advisor to the local historic preservation program and conducted an archaeological inventory of historic properties in the greater Kolonia area. He holds an MA degree in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a doctorate in Pacific Islands history from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

David Hanlon is the author of the award-winning book Upon a Stone Altar: A History of the Island of Pohnpei to 1890 and the more recent Remaking Micronesia: Discourses Over Development in a Pacific Territory, 1844-1982. He is also the co-editor with Geoffrey M. White of Voyaging Through the Contemporary Pacific. Dr. Hanlon was one of the founders of The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs and served as its editor for seven years before becoming editor of the Pacific Islands Monograph Series. He also sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Pacific History and the University of Hawaiʻi Press. His research interests include Micronesia, missionization, development, Pacific historiography, and cross-cultural encounters.  He maintains strong commitment to graduate education and to mentoring students from the Pacific Islands region and has been honored twice by the university as the recipient of UH Presidential and Board of Regents awards for excellence in teaching. He succeeded Robert C. Kiste as director of the UHM Center for Pacific Islands Studies in August, 2002. Dr. Hanlon returned to the Department of History in August, 2008, at the completion of his second, three-year term as director of the center. He was a visiting professor for the fall 2009 semester at Kagoshima University's Research Center for the Pacific Islands; spent July 2010 as a visiting international colleague with the Australian National University's College of Asia and the Pacific; and from 2008 through 2012 was an active member of the Pacific Alternatives research project based at the University of Bergen in Norway. His recently completed biography of Tosiwo Nakayama, the first president of the Federated States of Micronesia, has been published by University of Hawaiʻi Press.

Selected publications


•    2014     Making Micronesia: A Political Biography of Tosiwo Nakayama. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.

•    2000    Voyaging Through the Contemporary Pacific, co-edited with Geoffrey M White. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

•    1998    Remaking Micronesia: Discourses Over Development in a Pacific Territory, 1944–1982. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.

•    1988    Upon A Stone Altar: A History of the Island of Pohnpei to 1890. Pacific Islands Monograph Series 5. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press. [Winner of the 1989 American Society of Ethnohistory’s Erminie Wheeler-Voeglin Prize for the outstanding book in the field of ethnohistory published in the preceding year.]


•    1981    From Mesenieng to Kolonia: An Archaeological Survey of Historic Kolonia. Micronesian Archaeological Survey Report 5. Saipan: Trust Territory Government Press.


•   2012  "Nan Madol on Pohnpei: the Future of Its Past," in Edvard Hviding and Knut M. Rio, eds., Made in Oceania Social Movements, Cultural Heritage, and the State in the Pacific. London: Sean Kingston Publishing, pp. 121-140.

•   2011  "Histories of the Before: Lelu, Nan Madol, and Deep Time," in Elfriede Hermann, ed., Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings" Transformations of Cultural Traditions in Oceania, pp. 41-55.

•  2010  "Aloha for Their Violence: Locating the NFL's Pro Bowl within Contemporary Hawai`i and the Deeper Hawaiian Past,"  South Pacific Studies, 31:1, pp. 1-16.

•    2009    ‘Gofors Sometimes Need to Be Got for, Too,’” in Remembering Greg Dening. The Contemporary Pacific, 21:2, 299-301, 305-308.

•    2009    "'The Sea of Little Lands:' Examining Micronesia's Place in Pacific Studies," The Contemporary Pacific, 21:1, 91-110.

•    2008    "'You Did What, Mr. President!" Trying to Write a Life History of Tosiwo Nakayama," in Telling Pacific Lives: Prisms of Process, Brij V. Lal and Vicki Luker, eds., 165-176, Canberra: Australian National University E-Press.

•    2005    On Francis X. Hezel’s The First Taint of Civilization. In Texts and Contexts: Reflections in Pacific Islands Historiography, edited by Doug Munro and Brij V Lal, 202-212. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.

•    2004    Wone Sohte Lohdi: History and Place on Pohnpei. In Pacific Places, Pacific Histories: Essays in Honor of Robert C. Kiste, edited by Brij V Lal, 195–215. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.

•    2003    Beyond “the English Method of Tattooing”: Decentering the Practice of History in Oceania. In Back to the Future: Decolonizing Pacific Studies, edited by Vilsoni Hereniko and Terence Wesley-Smith. Special issue of The Contemporary Pacific 15:19–40.

•    2001    Converting Pasts and Presents: Reflections on Histories of Missionary Enterprises in the Pacific. In Pacific Lives, Pacific Places: Changing Boundaries in Pacific History, edited by Brij V Lal and Peter Hempenstall, 143–154. Canberra: Coombs Academic Publishing.

•    2000    Introduction (with Geoffrey M White). In Voyaging Through the Contemporary Pacific, edited by David Hanlon and Geoffrey M White, 1–22. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

•    1999    The Chill of History: The Experience, Emotion and Changing Politics of Archival Research in the Pacific. Archives and Manuscripts: The Journal of the Australian Society of Archivists 27 (1): 8–21.

•    1999    Magellan’s Chroniclers? American Anthropology’s History in Micronesia. In American Anthropology and Micronesia, edited by Robert C Kiste and Mac Marshall, 53–79. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.

•    1995    The End of History for the Edge of Paradise: Economic Development and the Compacts of Free Association in American Micronesia. In Colonial Inheritance: The Pacific Islands Since Independence, edited by Brij V Lal and Hank Nelson, 83–93. Brisbane: Pacific History Association.

•    1994    Patterns of Colonialism in Micronesia to 1942. In The History of the Pacific Islands in the Twentieth Century, edited by Kerry R Howe, Brij V Lal, and Robert C Kiste, 93–118. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press; Auckland: Allen & Unwin.

•    1994    Remaking Micronesia: A Reflection on the Cultural and Strategic Politics of Economic Development in American Micronesia, 1945–1968. In Dangerous Liaisons: A Festschrift for Greg Dening, edited by Donna Merwick, 135–156. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

•    1993    Sorcery, “Savage Memories,” and the Edge of Commensurability for History in the Pacific. In Pacific Islands History: Journeys and Transformations, edited by Brij V Lal, 107–128. Canberra: The Journal of Pacific History.

•    1993    Editor’s Introduction. The Contemporary Pacific 5:vii–ix.

•    1992    The Path Back to Pohnsakar: Luelen Bernart, His Book, and the Practice of History on Pohnpei. Isla: A Journal of Micronesian Studies 1 (1): 13–36.

•    1990    “The Pleasure of Speculation and Conjecture”: Early Euro-American Visions of Nan Madol and Their Relevance to Post-Modern Archaeological Investigations. In Recent Advances in Micronesian Archaeology: Proceedings of the Micronesian Archaeology Conference held on Guam from September 9–12, 1987, edited by Rosalind L Hunter-Anderson, 99–116. Special issue of Micronesica, Supplement 2 (October). Mangilao, Guam: University of Guam Press.

•    1989    Micronesia: Writing and Rewriting the Histories of a Nonentity. Pacific Studies 12 (2): 1–21.

•    1988    The Federated States of Micronesia: Unifying the Remnants (with William Eperiam). In Politics in Micronesia, vol 3, Politics of the Pacific Islands, edited by Ron Crocombe and Ahmed Ali, 85–106. Revised edition. Suva, Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific.

•    1988    Another Side of Henry Nanpei. Journal of Pacific History 23 (1): 36–51.

•    1984    God vs. Gods: The First Years of the Micronesian Mission on Ponape, 1852 to 1859. Journal of Pacific History 19 (1): 41–59.

•    1983    Introduction to Recent Soviet Works on the Pacific. Soviet Studies in History 21 (4): 5–13.

•    1983    The Federated States of Micronesia: Unifying the Remnants (with William Eperiam). In Politics in Micronesia, vol 3, Politics in the Pacific Islands, edited by Ron Crocombe and Ahmed Ali, 81–99. Suva, Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific.

•    1982    Myths, Strategies and Guilt in Micronesia. Perspectives [East-West Center, Honolulu] Summer: 24–27.

Pacific Related Links:
Micronesian Seminar
Pacific Alternatives Research Project  
Pacific History Association
Pacific Islands Report
UHM Center for Pacific Islands Studies
UHM Hamilton Library’s Special Pacific Collection