Episode 024

Cultural Democracy in Mauna Kea









Sophie Hope

Owen Kelly



August 30, 2019


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The Columbian Journalism Review explains that in “2009, an international consortium of scientists set their sights on Hawai’i’s Mauna Kea volcano as its preferred location for a massive, cutting-edge telescope. Native Hawaiians have long resisted the project on Mauna Kea for many reasons: Activists say construction there violates indigenous rights, threatens Mauna Kea’s fragile ecosystem, and is an affront to Native Hawaiian cultural and religious traditions”.

As a result of this native Hawaiians have mounted a series of increasingly effective protests, on the Big Island in Hawaii, with the aim of stopping the Thirty Metre Telescope from being built. Over the summer Owen Kelly has become increasingly interested in the issue, as it relates to ideas of cultural democracy, and the other subjects that we have touched upon in these podcasts.

In this episode he discusses what he has learned with Sophie Hope. He explains some of what he understands as the history of the protest, about the complexities and paradoxes at the heart of the decision to build the telescope on Mauna Kea, as well as why he thinks the official propaganda around the project serves as a striking example of false equivalence.