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How do I know I've been colonized? Let’s count the ways!

This painting shows "Manifest Destiny" (the belief that the United States should expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean). In 1872 artist John Gast painted a popular scene of people moving west that captured the view of Americans at the time. Called "Spirit of the Frontier" and widely distributed as an engraving portrayed settlers moving west, guided and protected by Columbia (who represents America and is dressed in a Roman toga to represent classical republicanism) and aided by technology (railways, telegraph), driving Native Americans and bison into obscurity. The technology shown in the picture is used to represent the outburst of innovation and invention of modern technology. It is also important to note that Columbia is bringing the "light" as witnessed on the eastern side of the painting as she travels towards the "darkened" west.

"How do I know I've been colonized? Let’s count the ways!" is a webinar

based on the work of Jane Ann Morris. Her 1998 article entitled “Help, I’ve Been Colonized and I Can’t Get Up” shattered the delusions of many social justice activists trying to navigate a regulatory system that was set up to benefit the corporate elite at the expense of communities and the environment. This important article outlines how the fixed system is designed to manage us and prevent any viable change that would benefit communities and the environment. We may think that others are colonized but not us, but by reading this article you will discover the many ways that you and I have been colonized.

Listen to Jane on this C-SPAN, a 25 minute VIDEO clip from November 30, 1996.

Jane’s biography:

Jane Anne Morris (1953-2019) was a Corporate anthropologist, activist, and author, who worked on many issues including local democracy, the environment, human rights, labor organizing, energy, police brutality, health care access, and food security. Morris’ Doctoral research grew out of her activism working with a group of semi-rural people who had organized to oppose stripmining in their county. She focused on the board and staff of the Texas electric utility, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) involved in the stripmining project. “By tracing the relationships and actions of board members, staff personnel, and regulatory agency representatives, I was able to map out and extensively document the specific strategies that enable public utility companies such as this one to successfully obtain permit after permit and carry out their plans, despite very vocal, well-organized, well-informed, and to my mind, valid, local opposition.” Informed by this decade-long stripmining campaign, Morris wrote and published her first book Not In My Backyard: The Handbook (1994) “as a manual for the ‘average citizen’ who wakes up one morning and discovers that something new and unwanted is planned for their neighborhood.”

“In 1996, she coined the phrase ‘democracy theme park’ to describe the way decades of corporate strategy have undermined democracy to the extent that citizens are left pulling at the levers of a democratic system, levers that are not connected to anything.” Read her complete bio and find more info (books, articles and videos) at the Democracy Theme Park website.

More resources on colonization:


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