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New podcast explores spirituality and colonialism

Photo of beach with pink and blue tones

Photo: iStock

Posted June 1, 2021

By Kirsty Clarke

Subaltern Speaks is a new podcast produced by student interns Manvinder Gill and Yasamin Jameh at University of Toronto’s Multi-Faith Centre, exploring the topics of religion and spirituality in the context of (De)colonization.

The podcast explores the legacies of colonialism on the religion and spiritualities of colonized peoples. The goal is to examine how they have lived through and continue to survive and even challenge colonial legacies through art, activism and other social mechanisms.

“Religion and spirituality are not just one static thing but are always in flux,” says Gill. They wanted to explore “who gets to define what one faith encompasses. It’s thinking about power.”

Through meaningful conversations with leading thinkers, academics, activists, artists and spiritual leaders in the U of T community and beyond, the discussions examine how colonialism and decolonization are understood and are practiced today. Gill and Jameh developed the podcast to address what they perceived as a gap in programming in studies of religion and spirituality, and to meet the needs of undergraduate students who could engage with the material in their own time at their own pace. To that end, the podcasts are brief, but packed with ideas and information from experts and from everyday people engaged in addressing this issue as related to spiritual practice.

Gill discussed the example of the co-mingling of spiritual practices in the idea of improving mental health, for example: “There is no conversation about what the co-opting of spirituality in this context means,” she notes. The podcast has provided one avenue for students to explore and consider this question (among others) in more depth.

Other topics covered to date include Deciphering Colonial Legacies: Black Women and Christianity; Decolonizing Canadian Secularism; and a two-part discussion on Maria Lionza and Post-Colonial Venezuelan Identity. Check out the podcast on Spotify, Facebook or on Google.