Indigenous and Feminist Challenges to IR: Dr. Leah Sarson and Dr. Maika Sondarjee virtually visit MUN

The promotional poster for the event featuring Dr. Leah Sarson and Dr. Maika Sondarjee

Last week, Memorial University’s Political Science department virtually hosted speakers Dr. Leah Sarson (Dalhousie University) and Dr. Maika Sondarjee (University of Ottawa) to discuss their research on the field of International Relations (IR).

The seminar, which took place on Friday, October 23rd, consisted of presentations from both speakers and a question period. It was directed by MUN’s Dr. Sarah Martin, and organized by MUN’s Dr. Isabelle Côté.

Dr. Sarson spoke first on her work regarding Indigenous global politics related to the extraction sector of the economy. She talked about the inherently colonialist power and structure of the state, and outlined how Indigenous peoples challenge that power, with examples from the extraction sector, to include themselves.

Dr. Sondarjee spoke next, discussing her studies of Deconstructing and Decolonizing Gender Studies in IR. She argued that IR is a masculine discipline, built upon white masculine conceptions of power. According to Sondarjee, the deconstruction of feminist theory and the decolonization of international relations are two critical ideas. Firstly, Sondarjee stated that feminist thought is considered a sub-group instead of an overarching theory and lens and must be deconstructed to reflect its heterogeneity. Secondly, the need to decolonize IR was discussed as, Sondarjee said, gendered and non-Eurocentric views are typically left out of IR. She also outlined ways instructors teaching IR could help decolonize the field: teaching about colonization and including non-masculine and non-Eurocentric scholars thus applying value to their knowledge.

For those interested in Political Science, the seminar was rife with information and very relevant given the current affairs in Nova Scotia (Miꞌkmaꞌki). Learning about Indigenous relations with the state is critical for all citizens, especially those who wish to decolonize their ways of thinking.

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