Science, Time, and Mauna a Wākea: The Thirty-Meter Telescope’s Capitalist-Colonialist Violence

Science, Time, and Mauna a Wākea: The Thirty-Meter Telescope’s Capitalist-Colonialist Violence

by David Maile


The first part of this essay appeared on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 on

Time Matters

In the previous section, I argued that scientific discourses are deployed in multiple ways to, on one hand, justify the TMT’s capitalist-colonialist violence at Mauna a Wākea and, on the other hand, to foreclose the visceral assemblage of settler colonial dispossession and elimination, (institutionalized) racism, U.S. militarization, empire building, and capitalist development.

The material fact is that TMT is a scientific project. It is backed by scientific institutions. Its purpose is science. But, in order for this scientific project to be constructed, Mauna Kea must be desecrated and destroyed. This is precisely why I, like many other Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians, stand against the TMT. This is also why we must be vigilant about identifying how seemingly beneficial projects of science actually require capitalist-colonialist violence. Thus, Makekau-Whittaker’s testimony that “science and money do not supersede the sanctity of our mountain” still holds relevance and critical insights here.

Together, science and time are wed to the central interests of the TMT project through money, development, and capitalism. To continue to develop this essay’s primary argument, I suggest that discourses of time are instrumental for how critics label our resistance to TMT as detrimental to advancement, progress, and a modern future.


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