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Decolonising Science Reading List – Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – Medium
"A note on Making Meaning of “Decolonising” — and in relation to that I want to be clear that the original motivation behind the creation of this list was to address a land claim issue: the use of Maunakea by non-Kanaka Maoli for science. Please be thoughtful about using “decolonising” if you’re not going to tie it into the physicality that colonialism necessarily requires. Intellectual colonialism only works when there is a physical threat associated with it.

A twitter thread by Melissa Daniels (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation) on engaging in colonialist activity under the guise of “decolonising education”

Thank me for my free labor maintaining this list by making a donation to The Offing via Paypal, Crowdrise, or a monthly donation at Patreon.

October 2016 Introduction
In April, 2015, one of the most visible topics of discussion in the Astronomy community was the planned Thirty Meter Telescope and protests against it from Native Hawaiians who didn’t want it built on Mauna Kea. I wrote a lot about this on social media, spending some significant time trying to contextualize the debate. This reading list was originally created in response to requests for where I was getting some of the information from. A lot of people asked me about what I’d been reading as reference points for my commentary on the relationship between colonialism and what we usually call “modern science.”

In August 2016 I updated to announce: I’m happy to report that Sarah Tuttle and I will be contributing to this list with our own publications in future thanks to this FQXi grant that we are co-I/PI on: Epistemological Schemata of Astro|Physics: A Reconstruction of Observers. The grant proposal was based on a written adaptation of a speech I gave at the Inclusive Astronomy conference, Intersectionality as a Blueprint for Postcolonial Scientific Community Building.

As part of this work, I’ve continued to expand the reading list, which seems to have become a global resource for people interested in science and colonialism. As I originally said, I make no claims about completeness, about updating it regularly, or even ever coming up with a system for organizing it that I find to be satisfactory. You’ll find texts that range from personal testimony to Indigenous cosmology to anthropology, to history to sociology to education research. All are key to the process of decolonising science, which is a pedagogical, cultural, and intellectual set of interlocking structures, ideas, and practices. This reading list functions on the premise that there is value in considering the ways in which science and society co-construct. It is stuff that I have read all or part of and saw some value in sharing with others.

I am especially indebted to the #WeAreMaunaKea movement for educating me and spurring me to educate myself.

Original April 2015 Commentary

There are two different angles at play in the discussion about colonialism and science. First is what constitutes scientific epistemology and what its origins are. As a physicist, I was taught that physics began with the Greeks and later Europeans inherited their ideas and expanded on them. In this narrative, people of African descent and others are now relative newcomers to science, and questions of inclusion and diversity in science are related back to “bringing science to underrepresented minority and people of color communities.” The problem with this narrative is that it isn’t true. For example, many of those “Greeks” were actually Egyptians and Mesopotamians under Greek rule. So, even though for the last 500 years or so science has largely been developed by Europeans, the roots of its methodology and epistemology are not European. Science, as scientists understand it, is not fundamentally European in origin. This complicates both racist narratives about people of color and innovation as well as discourse around whether science is fundamentally wedded to Euro-American operating principles of colonialism, imperialism and domination for the purpose of resource extraction.

This leads me to the second angle at play: Europeans have engaged what is called “internalist” science very seriously over the last 500 years and often in service and tandem with colonialism and white supremacy. For example, Huygens and Cassini facilitated and directed astronomical observation missions in order to help the French better determine the location of St. Domingue, the island that houses the modern nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Why? Because this would help make the delivery of slaves and export of the products of their labor more efficient. That is just one example, which stuck out to me because I am a descendant of the Caribbean part of the Atlantic Slave Trade, and I also have two degrees in astronomy (and two in physics).

There is a lot that has been hidden from mainstream narratives about the history of astronomy, including 20th century history. Where has the colonial legacy of astronomy taken us? From Europe to Haiti to now Hawai’i. Hawai’i is the flash point for this conversation now, even though the story goes beyond Hawai’i. If we are going to understand the context of what is happening in Hawai’i with the Thirty Meter Telescope, we must understand that Hawai’i is not the first or only place where astronomers used and benefited from colonialism. And in connection, we have to understand Hawai’ian history. Thus, my reading list also includes important materials about Hawai’i’s history.

tl;dr: science has roots outside of the Eurasian peninsula known as Europe, it likely has its limitations as one of multiple ontologies of the world, it has been used in really grotesque ways, and we must understand all of these threads to truly contextualize the discourse in Hawai’i around science, Hawaiian epistemologies and who gets to determine what constitutes “truth” and “fact” when it comes to Mauna a Wakea.

Finally, I believe science need not be inextricably tied to commodification and colonialism. The discourse around “diversity, equity and inclusion” in science, technology, engineering and mathematics must be viewed as a reclamation project for people of color. Euro-American imperialism and colonialism has had its (often unfortunate) moment with science, and it’s time for the rest of us to reclaim our heritage for the sake of ourselves and the next seven generations.

Note: this reading list is woefully low on materials about science in the pre-European contact Americas, Southeast Asia and parts of Australasia. I’m probably missing some stuff, but I think it signals a problem with research in the history of science too. Also I make no claims about completeness or a commitment to regularly updating it with my newest finds. Also see A U.S./Canadian Race & Racism Reading List.

May 2017 edit: I also just learned that there is a Reading List on Modern and Colonial Science in the Middle East.

October 2017 edit: I gratefully acknowledge Duane Hamacher of the Indigenous Astronomy twitter account for suggesting texts on Australian Indigenous astronomy and for introducing me to research on subarctic Indigenous astronomy.

Martin Kusch’s Sociology of scientific knowledge bibliography may be of interest.

As of May 2017 Beatrice Martini has posted Decolonizing technology: a reading list.

Works by me that may help you contextualize the list with problems I’ve been thinking about. These are partly here not because I particularly enjoy tooting my own horn but because I found that without them, people were assuming I hadn’t contributed to the dialogue myself beyond this reading list:

[lists follow]"
sciene  decolonization  readinglists  chandaprescod-weinstein  diversification  diversity  culture  race  gender  indigenous  indigeneity  imperialism  colonialism  science 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Morals Without God? - NYTimes.com
"Over the past few years, we have gotten used to a strident atheism arguing that God is not great (Christopher Hitchens) or a delusion (Richard Dawkins). The new atheists call themselves “brights,” thus hinting that believers are not so bright. They urge trust in science, and want to root ethics in a naturalistic worldview.

While I do consider religious institutions and their representatives — popes, bishops, mega-preachers, ayatollahs, and rabbis — fair game for criticism, what good could come from insulting individuals who find value in religion? And more pertinently, what alternative does science have to offer? Science is not in the business of spelling out the meaning of life and even less in telling us how to live our lives. We, scientists, are good at finding out why things are the way they are, or how things work, and I do believe that biology can help us understand what kind of animals we are and why our morality looks the way it does. But to go from there to offering moral guidance seems a stretch.

Even the staunchest atheist growing up in Western society cannot avoid having absorbed the basic tenets of Christian morality. Our societies are steeped in it: everything we have accomplished over the centuries, even science, developed either hand in hand with or in opposition to religion, but never separately. It is impossible to know what morality would look like without religion. It would require a visit to a human culture that is not now and never was religious. That such cultures do not exist should give us pause."

[See also: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mind-reviews-bonobo-and-atheist/ ]
animals  atheism  ethics  philosophy  religion  belief  fransdewaal  via:anne  sciene  evolution  morality  primates  relationships  giving  brain  denbosch  hieronymusbosch  life  living  darwin  altruism  empathy  pleasure  charity  inequity  inequityaversion  dogs  2010  charlesdarwin 
february 2014 by robertogreco

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