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Posts tagged "colonialism"

**TRIGGER WARNING: Gendered violence, sexual violence, colonialism/colonizaton, abuse**

Many of the strategies to address violence have further strengthened broad systems of colonial power, which are themselves inherently violent. We continue to appeal to the Canadian legal system to address physical violence, calling for more policing or better laws, while knowing this system is set up to oppress, rather than help, us. The same colonial mentality that created the Indian Act to privilege the rights of men over women, and instituted residential schools to break down our family systems, serves as the foundation for the Canadian legal system. Surely we must engage with this powerful system, but appealing to law alone will not stop the violence.

So how do we begin to change norms around gendered violence without reinforcing its roots in colonial power? As we strategize, we must be careful not to reproduce the systems and ideologies that colonialism has introduced. Sexist, racist and homophobic ideas have been internalized at many levels, but colonialism’s stealthy ways make them hard to recognize.

As an example, one consequence of developing broad public awareness about the prevalence of violence against Indigenous women has been the privileging of some women’s voices over others. Moving from Vancouver’s downtown east side to offices in Ottawa and other urban centers across Turtle Island, efforts to name gendered violence have shifted from grassroots discussions to slick poster campaigns. In these moves, certain voices have been left behind, enacting a form of silencing that I believe is in crucial need of reparation. Rather than calling on our sisters in the sex trade to speak for themselves, others are asked to speak on their behalf. We must ask ourselves how colonial values continue to shape whose voices are seen as legitimate, while working to center the voices of the most marginalized women in our communities rather than only those of us with a colonial education.

So colonial violence can be understood as more than just interpersonal abuse – it is inherent in the systems that have shaped how we define ourselves and relate to one another as Indigenous people. It should go without saying that healing from violence requires rebuilding our individual and collective strength rather than reinforcing the power of the state. By centering local Indigenous knowledge in our understandings of leadership, honor, strength and love, we can redefine ‘power’ as well as ‘violence’. This requires relearning our stories and our cultural teaching in order to raise up the girls in our communities and respect them as leaders, mothers, warriors and knowledge keepers.

Sarah Hunt, “More Than A Poster Campaign: Redefining Colonial Violence,” Decolonization 2/14/13


“Additionally while media is rightfully honing in on voter suppression efforts across the country and pushback against these efforts, little attention is paid to the fact that Puerto Rican citizens on the island have no vote in the U.S. presidential election, nor Congressional representation yet are subject to U.S. law. There has been buzz about how this year’s plebiscite is allegedly different from those of years past because of the wording of the option and a two step process, but not much discussion on how no matter how the vote turns out, a Congressional bill would have to be introduced to Congress to change the island’s status. Not one article or post I have seen has mentioned the numerous hearings before the United Nations Decolonization Committee and that committee’s recommendations. There also has been hardly any noise heard within the U.S. media about allegations of electoral fraud within the island. Just like during the 2008 presidential campaign, this year both candidates have made much ado about the influence of the Latino vote by campaigning in Puerto Rico and the media has focused on the participation numbers of voters on the island in the primaries there.”

U.S. Media and Puerto Rico

The reason that Cross and Marta go to the Philippines is to synthesize a super-soldier chemical compound pick-me-up that can only be produced in a US military lab in Manila. It’s believable that the US government would operate a covert lab in the Philippines because the plot draws on the actual history of US military presence in the region.

Downward camera angles also might seem militaristic because we experience similar aerial views on the news. We’re familiar with this gaze from images and video reportage on places and events of military interest, such as bombings that are reported in such a way as to instill confidence in the military’s ability to complete mission objectives. Aerial views allow us to see far and wide, giving us a sense of command as though we are military officers looking across the scope of the field of operations, deciding upon the appropriate strategic uses of its geographical features. But it’s not only in the context of formal war that we are asked to look from this militarized perspective. Often images of slums in news reports present these aerial views from helicopters, again to give us a sense of knowing something about an area, while allowing us to stay above and away from it.

Mimicking recent trends in the military basing practices, Cross is able to operate far and wide, without restriction, moving from the US to the Philippines and finding strategic pivot-points from which to protect his interests. He may fight the US government, but he does this by assuming its military operating model and gaze, which is biased, selecting the spaces of particular populations as appropriate battlegrounds, while understanding other spaces as off-limits.

ICYMI: Brian Ziadie’s incredibly spot-on analysis of The Bourne Legacy on the R today!


The descendants of the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, who was forced to hand over the Koh-i-Noor diamond to Queen Victoria, will on Monday launch a court action for his body and possessions to be returned to India


The jewel is currently mounted in the crown of the Queen Consort, last worn by the late Queen Mother.

The family is also seeking the return of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s golden throne and for both to be kept at the Golden Temple, the centre of the Sikh faith, in Amrtisar, India.

Their case reopens a controversial chapter in British colonial history that still arouses strong passions in India, particularly in Punjab, where Sikhs regard the exile of Duleep Singh and his “gift” of the Koh-i-Noor diamond to Queen Victoria in 1850 as a national humiliation.


“Our property was confiscated by British rule. This letter establishes us as the rightful heirs of Duleep Singh and we want to get back his remains and his other belongings to the Golden Temple,” Jaswinder Singh Sandhanwalia told The Daily Telegraph on Sunday.

More power to the Singh family for taking back what belongs to them. Kicking imperialism and colonialism’s collective rear end with Indian might and right.

Lamont Lilly: Dr. Cuevas, as only the second individual I know to describe themselves as Afro-Mexican can you share some insight on the cultural connections that exist within such a powerful ethic mix? And why have figures such as Gaspar Yanga and Emiliano Zapata been omitted from history’s reference of heralded freedom fighters?

Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas: Well, the reason you haven’t heard many refer to themselves as Afro-Mexican is because this is a relatively new term that was first coined by Eurocentric scholars like Melville Herskovits. It was Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán who coined it in 1945 in Mexico City, during the foundational meeting of the Institute for African American Studies. However, that doesn’t mean that a color consciousness didn’t exist in Mexico. Prior to that, we had a host of names such as “Casta,” “Chilango,” “Jarocho,” and “Boshito,” all terms that refer to the lack of blood cleanliness of non-white persons. That would explain why many people in Mexico do not identify themselves as Afro-Mexican. They refer to themselves as Casta, or any of the other names previously mentioned. Recently however, there’s been a movement in the South Pacific side of Mexico whereby Afro-Mexicans do not want to be called Afro-Mexican. They just want to be called Nĕgro — Black. It erases the science and intellectuality of such embedded complexities.

In the case of Gaspar Yanga, his omission from history obviously has to do with the revolt he led in the late 16th and early 17th centuries against the Spaniards. Mexico did not actually exist at that time, and the Spanish rulers were not eager to historicize such pursuits of freedom. Yanga and others went against their rule. Only after Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán did Mexicans become aware in the early 1970s that the town of San Lorenzo de Los Negros would be called Yanga (in honor of this Afro warrior). So we know there was an African presence in the region.

As for Emiliano Zapata, he has actually not been omitted from history. Though not as celebrated here, Emiliano Zapata is a very prominent and well-known revolutionary. He’s one of the people who fought in the area of Morelos, a southern part of Mexico, during the Mexican Revolution. What is omitted from history is Zapata’s African descent. He was an Afro-Mexican. This can be proven even beyond appearances by the fact that his motto was that the land belongs to the people who work it. This is a millenary Bantu way of thinking, that may be as old as a couple million years.

I’ve heard about the Afro-Mexicans through the work of Black photographer Tony Gleaton back in the 90s. Lamont Lilly’s interview with Dr. Marco Polo Hernández-Cuevas on the R today is a great history lesson on African identities in Mexico and Afropolitanism.






Motecuhzoma’s “Feathered Crown,” One Step Closer to Returning to Mexico

Austria formalized an agreement with Mexico on Tuesday that will allow for the return of a feathered headdress believed to have once belonged to Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin.

The headdress, which is often referred to as a feathered crown, is commonly known by most Mexicans as “El Penacho de Moctezuma,” or “Moctezuma’s feathered headdress.”

Austria’s Ministry of Culture and Education made clear that the headdress’ return to Mexico is considered a “loan,” not the repatriation one of Mexico’s most important cultural symbols.

The headdress is believed to have been taken to Spain by Hernán Cortés in 1519. Reports say Archduke Ferdinand of Austria obtained it in 1590. It’s been housed at the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna since the early 1800’s.

Much of the credit for leading the efforts to return the headdress to Mexico goes to Xokonoschtletl Gómora. See video of him below.

The majority of Mexicans, included those who responded to a question we posted on Twitter and Facebook, support having the headdress stay in Mexico.

Video: Xokonoschtletl Gómora - Apoya el Regreso de la Corona de Moctezuma

Ya regresenlo

this is one thing I detest about museums: that nations should be grateful that they are loaned valuable artefacts that were stolen from them.

it takes you right back to one of the precursors of museums, the cabinet of curiousities (kunstkammer), where bits and pieces were taken from all around the world and shoved into a room. In England, if you’re around London or Oxford you can fairly easily see collections like that (Sloane collection in the British Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum respectively). You can see how the belongings and artefacts and even bodies of the Other are displayed as quaint ornaments, as visitor attractions.

All major European and North American museums are in the business of displaying the spoils of colonialism, as though holding aloft the severed heads of the victims of mass armed robbery, campaigns of cultural and physical genocide. Such spoils also trickle into the trade in “exotic antiques” and are often the biggest ticket items on shows about antique collectibles, pickers, and pawn shops, with the manner of their acquisition by random white collectors politely glossed over. “How did you come upon this priceless Chinese imperial porcelain?” “My great grandfather was a British soldier during the Opium Wars and it was given to him as a gift!”

That is one amazing-looking headdress. Slowly but surely, it seems to me that the political climate in the museum world is moving toward more repatriation of priceless artifacts of cultural heritage, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this “loan” eventually becomes permanent. Much credit to Xokonoschtletl Gómora.

I just had a conversation with someone who was defending keeping artifacts under the guise of colonialist nations being better equipped to handle preservation. When I pointed out that these museums could pay some percentage of the fees amassed by displaying these items to help build up the necessary infrastructure that person stopped talking to me. Best possible outcome y/y?