EP22: The Colonial Lens (ft. Uahikea Maile, Max Liboiron, & Pam Palmater)

Scholars want to decolonize everything, and universities say they are doing the hard work of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.  But is anything really being done, or is it all for show? In this episode, we approach these questions through three words that are common inside and outside of academia: decolonize, reconciliation, and colonialism. 

  • First (@7:05), Uahikea Maile is Assistant Professor of Indigenous politics at the University of Toronto. Last summer, he was part of a land defense against the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope that would be built in Hawaii on Mauna Kea, which is sacred to Native Hawaiins. He takes us inside the struggle and explains that the telescope will not be built despite the powerful forces, including governments that wish it to be.
  • Then (@18:39), Max Liboiron is an Associate Professor in Geography at Memorial University and head of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research. They explain what colonialism is and how it relates to land and research, including “well intentioned” environmental work that is itself colonial and dispossesses Indigenous peoples. They also make the distinction between “decolonialism” and “anti-colonialism.”
  • Finally (@38:58), Pam Palmater is Chair of Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. She points out that the point of reconciliation is to uncover and expose the truth in the service of making amends but politicians have appropriated the term and rendered it superficial in the service of their own ends. So too have universities. She asks how universities and others hold themselves to account and take action when it comes to reconciliation — or not. 


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Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer this week is Jay Cockburn and our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. Our research assistants this week are Addye Susnick and David Moscrop. We also had research assistance from Franklynn Bartol and academic advising from Dr. Marc Spooner. Our theme song was created by Mike Barber. Our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.

This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, as part of a project looking at higher education policy in Canada. The lead academic advisor is Dr. Marc Spooner at the University of Regina, and Franklynn Bartol is the research assistant

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

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