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Source: University of Canterbury

31 July 2020

A panel of University of Canterbury experts will discuss why anti-racism and black lives matter in Aotearoa, in a special extended public lecture on Wednesday evening, 5 August.

A panel of University of Canterbury experts will discuss why anti-racism and black lives matter in Aotearoa, in a special extended public lecture on Wednesday evening, 5 August.

As a tertiary institution in Aotearoa New Zealand for nearly 150 years, the University of Canterbury (UC) has an obligation to educate and inform. Since the inaugural address at the founding of the Canterbury Collegiate Union in 1872, this university has stood for accessible higher education, service to community, and the encouragement of talent without barriers of distance, wealth, class, gender or ethnicity.

The University continues to stand for these principles and explicitly aims to produce graduates who are engaged with their communities, empowered to act for good and determined to make a difference in the world. UC supports academic staff taking the role of critic and conscience of society and an active role in shaping society.

This panel discussion on Why anti-racism and black lives matter in Aotearoa, includes: UC’s Amokapua Pākākano | Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori, Pasifika and Equity Dr Darryn Russell, Senior Lecturer Garrick Cooper of Aotahi School of Māori and Indigenous Studies, UC Arts, and Lecturer Dr Mahdis Azarmandi, School of Educational Studies and Leadership, in the College of Education, Health & Human Development. The kaiwhakapāoho | moderators for the panel discussion will be Jeanine Tamati-Elliffe (Kāi Tahu, Te Ātiawa), a Kaiārahi Māori at UC, and University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA) Tumuaki | President Tori McNoe (Te Arawa).

  • Garrick Cooper, Aotahi School of Maori and Indigenous Studies, College of Arts, University of Canterbury

Garrick Cooper is a Senior Lecturer in Aotahi School of Maori and Indigenous Studies. He is from Tauranga Moana (Te Pirirākau) and Hauraki (Ngāti Karaua). He researches, among other things, the philosophy of race and decoloniality, particularly through the canonical works of philosophers Frantz Fanon and Lewis Gordon.  While for many Māori the connection between anti-black racism, the BLM movement and the lived experiences of Māori experiences is self-evident, for others it appears less clear. The apparent lack of clarity or ambivalence perhaps reveal fundamental disagreements about the mechanics and architecture of colonialism. The very forces that created the slave trade and the sets of conditions that African-Americans have endured ever since are the very same forces that drove European colonisation of this land. In some ways, the real progress made vis-à-vis Treaty grievances has made more opaque, one particularly insidious feature of colonialism, that is anti-Maori/black racism.

  • Dr Mahdis Azarmandi, School of Educational Studies and Leadership, College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury

 Mahdis Azarmandi is a Lecturer in the School of Educational Studies and Leadership, UC. She is Iranian-German and has worked at the International People’s College in Denmark, Humboldt University Berlin and most recently DePauw University in the United States. Her research is situated at the intersections of Peace and Conflict Studies and Critical Race and Whiteness Studies. Her dissertation ‘Colonial Continuities – A study of Anti-racism in Aotearoa New Zealand and Spain’ drew on critical race theory and decolonial theory to explicate the role of colonialism in shaping conceptualisations and race and racism and how the race and whiteness are placed in relationship to the historicity of racism within anti-racist work in Spain and New Zealand. Outside academia, Dr Azarmandi has worked in the non-profit sector focusing on migrant rights and gender-based violence. As an organiser she has been engaged in anti-racism and social justice work for the past two decades, and recently discussed racism as a global and local problem in Stuff newspapers.

For this panel, Dr Azarmandi will focus on the ‘translations’ of BLM to local contexts, that is how to think about the global logic of white supremacy while engaging the context specific formations of race and whiteness. That is, how can non-Maori think solidarity and action from a place that centres tino rangatiratanga as well as anti-blackness in anti-racist work in Aotearoa New Zealand?

  • Dr Darryn Russell, Amokapua Pākākano | Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori, Pacific and Equity, University of Canterbury

Dr Darryn Russell is UC’s Amokapua Pākākano | Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori, Pacific and Equity, and assists the University in creating a learning environment which recognises and promotes Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique bicultural society. He was previously the Director of Māori Development at the University of Otago. He is Ngāi Tahu, and a member of Ōtākou Rūnanga. His experience includes directorships on commercial, non-commercial, philanthropic and community organisations. Dr Russell has also held ministerial appointments to national committees.

The role of the Amokapua Pākākano | AVC Māori, Pacific and Equity is to help the university in general and in particular support a learning environment which recognises and promotes Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique bicultural society. Ko tā te Amokapua Pākākano mahi ko te ārahi i Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha whānui, otirā me matua tautoko i te taiao ako hai whakatairanga, hai whakamana hoki te hāpori tikanga rua o Aotearoa nei.

UC Connect public lecture: Why anti-racism and black lives matter in Aotearoa, presented by Dr Darryn Russell, Garrick Cooper, and Dr Mahdis Azarmandi, with kaiwhakapāoho Jeanine Tamati-Elliffe and Tori McNoe, 7pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 5 August, C1 lecture theatre in Central Lecture Theatres, Ilam campus, Christchurch. This talk will be recorded and available for viewing on the UC Connect YouTube channel, a fortnight after the event. Register to attend free: www.canterbury.ac.nz/ucconnect

MIL OSI