The Sky Is for Everyone, the Land Isn’t

Marcel Agueros, Astronomy; Frances Negron - Muntaner, English and Comparative Literature; Kevin Fellezs, Music and African American and African Diaspora Studies

Agueros, Negron-Muntaner, Fellezs

Astronomers have long seen themselves as engaged in a harmless science, one that lacks the dark history of many other disciplines. In recent years, this picture has started to change, primarily through the overdue recognition of the role of systemic sexism and racism in deciding who gets to engage in astronomical research. This proposal was to address another long-ignored pillar of our enterprise: the benefit the astronomical community draws from the construction of major observatories in remote, unoccupied locations that by and large ignores local, and frequently indigenous, relations to the land in question. Through discussions with land-use specialists, historians, indigenous and decolonial scholars, observatory and federal agency staff, activists and astronomers, we expanded our community's understanding of the role that colonialism has played and continues to play in supporting our ability to explore the universe. The grant recipients also discussed a developing framework, collaborating with integrity, which seeks to foster a new relationship between western science, global south communities, and indigenous and decolonial scholarship.

This project was funded through the Addressing Racism: A Call to Action for Higher Education initiative of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement.