Showing posts from May, 2021

Understanding Decolonization: White Savior and Noble Savage Tropes

Earlier this week I gave a five minute talk on "white savior" and "noble savage" tropes in conservation.  Sometimes I speak off the cuff, but this time I read from prepared remarks.  Here's a recording of me giving this speech, along with the text. Colonization is alive and well in the United States today. I was born on Guam, one of the five US territories, and identify as Native Chamorro. The official stance of the United States government is that I belong to an “alien race” of “savage and restless people” unable to understand “Anglo-Saxon principles.” When I lived at home in the islands, I did not have the same rights as other American citizens, including representation in the White House or Congress, and people I did not have the power to vote for made decisions on my behalf. Any reasonable person with a sense of justice should be able to see why this is problematic, not just for conservation, but for all decisions made on behalf of a colonized commun