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Inspirations

These are the major signposts that have marked my intellectual and emotional development over the last few years.

Writing

Pathologies of Power (Paul Farmer, 2003). The physician-anthropologist-activist’s explanation of how the powerful effectively keep people in poverty and sickness through structural and ideological violence, and enable the systematic neglect and abuse of their human rights. This book opened my eyes to how power operates.

âpihtawikosisân, a blog by Chelsea Vowel, a Plains Cree-speaking Métis law school grad and linguist who writes clear, insightful, moving, personal, and often funny introductions to and commentaries on indigenous issues.

Decolonizing Methodologies (Linda Tuhiwai Smith, 1999). A fierce critique of the Western academic world’s historical and ongoing role as a major component of imperialism and colonialism, and a roadmap for developing a more humble, respectful, and helpful approach to research. This book opened my eyes to how academic power operates.

The Truth about Stories (Thomas King, 2003). A manifesto on the centrality of narrative in human experience, and a crucial lens for understanding history, politics, and culture.

The Empathy Exams (Leslie Jamison, 2014). The first chapter taught me that empathy is not a talent for feeling: rather, it’s a skill, a form of curiosity.

The short stories of Alice Munro (1968-present). For me, these stories have been a gateway into a renewed appreciation of fiction and a newfound fascination with inner lives, which in turn has enabled a greater capacity for empathy.

 

Podcasts

On Being with Krista Tippett, a series of interviews with artists, philosophers, scientists, activists, and spiritual thinkers, about the big questions of life and what it means to be human. A weekly secular sermon that routinely moves me; that has deepened my understanding of religion, activism, the natural world, my own body, and my own feelings; and that is making me a better and more fulfilled person. My favourite episodes so far: on beauty, on curiosity, on being at peace, on the natural world, on meditation, on activism, on Black folk religion, on atheism, on politics, on singing, on running, on loving thine enemy, and on silence.

 

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