Episode 169: Colonialism and Imperialism in Star Trek

Archer in a cowboy hat in "North Star"
We’re joined by Dr. Lynette Russell and Andrea to talk about colonialism and imperialism in Star Trek, from the series’ Space Western origins to the Maquis. We also discuss the Prime Directive and envision the possibilities for more anti-imperialist Trek narratives.

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Hosts: Jarrah and Andi

Guests:

Editor:  Andi

Call to Action for Settlers:

  • Educate yourself on the history and present-day realities of colonial oppression and genocide, including residential schools/boarding schools/missions. Seek out work by Indigenous creators where possible.
  • Take time to think about how you may benefit from systems of colonial oppression.
  • Demand accountability from government and religious institutions.
  • Look at other areas where you can make a change, e.g. conversations with your family, community awareness-raising, starting a reconciliation learning/working group in your workplace.
  • Support through donations and/or volunteering (make an effort not to seek attention or center your experience in volunteering) groups such as: Indigenous land defenders, residential school survivors, groups concerned with Indigenous children’s rights such as the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, reconciliation education initiatives, etc.

Notes and References:

  5 comments for “Episode 169: Colonialism and Imperialism in Star Trek

  1. Huh. What I did listen to has left me incredibly baffled about its dismissal of deep space nine as pro colonialism and anti Maquis. And it being used as an example of characters not learning except Bashir. It’s not that the federation was fine with the Bajorans and not with the Maquis; Bajor was not a part of the federation, and when it fought Cardassia, the federation was not at peace with them. They left Bajorans and many others to be occupied by Cardassia. This is not to defend the federation, but to note that Deep Space Nine has countless moments of self reflection about the Federation’s hypocrisy and political calculations. I mean… they even attempt to commit genocide at the end.

    On top of that, the series EXPLICITLY addresses colonialism and imperialism, from day one. Cardassians are very accurate portrayals of the colonialist mindset. I just don’t think it can be underestimated how much Kira is NOT dismissed as a character by deep space nine just because she’s Bajoran. So many characters in deep space nine change. Several occupiers become occupied and learn from the people they occupied how to fight. They sure have to change. A LOT. (Most do not change, their violently racist past is never sugar coated.)

    I’m just surprised since I’ve seen portrayals of occupation in deep space nine that I’ve not seen in any other show, and they are basically dismissed here.

    • Hi Noelle – there was a lot to cover in this hour and we couldn’t get super super in depth about all of DS9 or the Maquis. I think you’re right that there is more nuance to it. I believe we’re looking at doing an episode just on the Maquis at some point, as well as an episode on Bajoran women, so those topics should be a good chance to explore those nuances. And apologies for the general transcription backlog – it’s being actively discussed.

  2. I wanted to mention Eddington’s rant about the federation, and leaving the federation and the Marquis. That might be something to talk more about if you do an episode on ST and terrorism.

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