Hidden Figures: New podcast shines a light on racism in academia

Screenshot of a video call featuring 4 speakers.

Clockwise from top left: Nathan Andrews, Annie Duchesne, Akalya Kandiah and Joseph Shea in the first episode of the Hidden Figures podcast.

Academics from McMaster and beyond are taking up the mic in order to shine a light on racism and oppression in Canadian academia.

The Hidden Figures Project team, which includes Nathan Andrews and Akalya Kandiah from the department of political science, has been exploring how racism and Whiteness occur in the social and natural sciences in Canada.

Now, coinciding with Black History Month, the team has launched its  podcast series.

Through conversations with other academics, including Vice-Provost (International) and human rights expert Bonny Ibhawoh from the Faculty of Humanities; and Associate Dean of Research and cancer biologist Juliet Daniel from the Faculty of Science, the Hidden Figures team hopes to share the experiences of BIPOC groups in Canadian academia.

Through it, they demonstrate why representation matters, who is excluded from academia, and why.

The podcast also places the spotlight on specific BIPOC scholars in different disciplines within the social and natural sciences, and their contributions to their respective fields of study.

The podcast is just part of Hidden Figures’ strategy to tackle the issue of racism in academia, Andrews said.

“We are doing a podcast because conversations are a powerful medium for both self-reflexivity and social action,” he said.

“The main rationale is informed by the need to challenge the academic status quo by critically evaluating how practices that have historically marginalized certain scholars persist, how these practices remain part of broader systemic injustices and what can be done about it to make our disciplinary fields more inclusive.”

Kandiah hopes the ease of access to podcasts will allow their work to reach as many people as possible.

“It’s exciting to be able to share these kinds of dialogues through a medium that is more accessible than many traditional forms of knowledge mobilization in academia” she said.

Visit the Hidden Figures Podcast’s Spotify page or Apple Podcasts site.

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