Published: Feb. 10, 2020

This talk will explore the stakes of the unfolding dispute on Mauna Kea concerning the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project.  The dispute has been the subject of legal and administrative proceedings and two major direction action protests, one in 2015 and another that began last July and is ongoing.  Johnson will outline basic issues at the root of the struggle with particular attention to the status of living tradition and sovereignty, illustrating ways that the current protests express and embody Native Hawaiian jurisdiction over their land and culture.   At the most general level, the talk will address a paradox found in many settings of Indigenous land struggles: religious traditions animate such movements while simultaneously being treated by courts and administrative entities as “merely political.”


Greg Johnson (PhD University of Chicago) is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is also Director of the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life.  From 2005-2019, Johnson was a faculty member at the University of Colorado in the Department of Religious Studies and a board member and Interim Director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies.  Johnson’s research focuses on the intersection of law and religion in contexts of indigenous struggles over burial protection, repatriation, and sacred land.  His work has focused primarily on Hawaiian and Native American contexts but also on emerging forms of global indigeneity.  Johnson’s publications include Sacred Claims: Repatriation and Living Tradition (UVA 2007), Handbook of Indigenous Religion(s) (co-editor, Brill 2017), Irreverence and the Sacred: Critical Studies in the History of Religions (co-editor, Oxford 2018), Indigenous Religion(s): Local Grounds and Global Networks (co-editor, Routledge forthcoming), and a working manuscript entitled Religion in the Moment: Tradition, Law, and Contemporary Indigeneity

Wednesday, February 26th, Humanities 250 from 5:30-7:00PM

Reception to follow
Mauna Kea