Monthly Archives: February 2013

URACCAN’s decolonial geographies

I’m heading to the National University of Singapore next week to participate in a symposium on postcolonial geography. I’m giving a paper about URACCAN, a grassroots, intercultural, community university in Bilwi on Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast and how its achievements, experiences and its intellectual production provide a substantial challenge to the mainstream Enlightenment universities in which many of us academic geographers work. I spent ten years at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand where stated aims to indigenize and decolonize the university were constantly thwarted by neoliberal restructuring, downsizing, attrition and the privileging of western science and engineering over social sciences and humanities. URACCAN provides an example of how things can be done differently, when you allow indigenous worldviews to disrupt Eurocentric ways of knowing and when you refuse to separate the cultural, the scientific, the technological and the supernatural. In January 2009, Kevin Glynn and I shared some of our research findings on the region’s community media operations with a large group of first year students, most of whom identified as indigenous, who were enrolled in the degree in Intercultural Communication at URACCAN. We found a vibrant, articulate and engaged group of students willing to share their views with us. We wonder what the mainstream Enlightenment university might look like if governance and the organization of knowledge were based on horizontal and reciprocal solidarities, on collective decision making and on relational understandings of the connections between humans and nonhumans.

Paul Holmes dies at 62

So veteran New Zealand broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes, the man who once called Kofi Annan a “cheeky darkie”,  has passed away and tributes are pouring in.  I didn’t watch him all that regularly, but did analyse his interview with Morgan Fahey in an article I published with Jane Harrison in Gender, Place and Culture in 2001. Morgan Fahey was a respected Christchurch GP who was later convicted and imprisoned for sexually assaulting a number of female patients in his care. It involved all kinds of interesting media geographies, including secret cameras and grainy image apologies. In response to Holmes’ death, NZ PM John Key has described him as a journalist who asked the hard questions, but in the Fahey interview, as we wrote back then,  he departed from his “usual more confrontational style and conducted what could only be described as a benign interview, with Fahey presented not as a physician or a politician but as a husband and a family man” (Cupples and Harrison 2001:195 ). He also chose to reproduce anti-feminist tropes of the women who made the allegations as untrustworthy and unstable and placed images of Fahey and his wife against the ultra-English landscape of Hagley Park.  I wonder if he was thinking of the Fahey interview when he said these words in one of his last interviews to the NZ media before his death, interesting references at the end of the clip to treating “a man unfairly or incorrectly” and “guilt or innocence”. RIP Paul.

Paul Holmes

The video clip is here

The article in Gender, Place and Culture is here