Week 10 Blogpost
As our world progressed further and further, it’s important to understand that the advancements in science, technology, and thoughts/ideologies can sometimes alter our perceptions on what we may have considered to be iconic or sacred in the past. It’s common knowledge that advancements and innovations in the field of science, technology, and medicine have clearly pushed our world forward and has made life much more interesting and of higher quality; however, these same advancements can negatively impact valued things from the past and this can range from thought processes to actual tangible things that bring about emotion. This is the case with the addition of a Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) that allows scientists to study space at a much more advanced level. The problem arose when the TMT was proposed to be added at Maunakea in Hawaii, a place that native Hawaiians consider to be sacred and precious.
Native Hawaiians consider Maunakea to be sacred because of their culture — it is said that this place is a home to their gods. Because of this emotional factor, Hawaiians have showcased that it is not necessary to add yet another telescope to the same peak in Maunakea, especially where there are already twelve present. They also feel that it’s important to conserve as much of their culture as possible because in the past, this was not possible. In fact, during the Hawaiian Renaissance, it is believed that Hawaiians lost a portion of both their land and their culture (Phys.org). Because of these concerns, Hawaiians believe that the addition of another telescope on the same peak would be “denying the humanity of Native Hawaiians for the past 50 years” (Kahanamoku).
It’s worth noting that the addition of the TMT at Maunakea offers significant advancements in the field of science, specifically astronomy. The TMT would play a major role in the observation of other planets, black holes, and other aspects of our galaxy and universe. However, the natives of Hawaii believe that this addition is only detrimental to their culture, and in a way, is a form of colonialism. According to the Smithsonian magazine, natives feel this way because of the lack of respect for their culture and the presence of a sense of “superiority” by outsiders from other parts of the Western world (Smithsonian Magazine).
Whether it’s related to gender, race, or a multitude of different factors, this sense of “superiority” and lack of respect for others’ cultures is something that we as a class have revisited throughout the course of the semester. It’s important for us to understand that these issues can be tied into various different scenarios, and the addition of the TMT to Maunakea along with the reaction of the Hawaiian natives proposes just one more.
Smithsonian Magazine, Science Still Bears the Fingerprints of Colonialism, 2018: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/science-bears-fingerprints-colonialism-180968709/
S.Kahanamoku, et al., A Native Hawaiian-led summary of the current impact of constructing the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea, 2019:https://arxiv.org/pdf/2001.00970.pdf
Phys.org, Giant Hawaii telescope to focus on big unknowns of universe, 2019: https://phys.org/news/2019-07-giant-hawaii-telescope-focus-big.html