Power and Pain: The Legacy of the British Empire

As the United Kingdom mourns the death of Queen Elizabeth II, around the globe a new generation is calling for a reckoning and many are raising questions about the legacy of the crimes and exploitation perpetrated by the British Empire. Reflecting on the contrasting responses and calls for decorum during mourning, Michigan State University religious studies professor Dr. Shreeya N Gandhi talks with host Ambereen Khan about the lessons from South Asia and the relationship between empire building and the church. Then, producer Kimberly Winston talks with author Catherine Wolff about her book exploring what humans believe about what happens after life.

“…Missionaries were often a part of the colonial enterprise…”
Ambereen Khan talks with historian and religious studies professor Dr. Shreena N Gandhi about the legacy of the British Empire and the mixed reactions as King Charles III assumes leadership of the British Crown. Gandhi brings insights from her scholarship and research examining the intersection of race, religion, and empire to decode the headlines.

“…the thing about being colonized people is that we have a love, hate relationship with the empire”
Dr. Gandhi describes how her grandfather’s spirituality and questions sparked her early interest in studying the relationship between religion, and how her own family’s unique lineage is rooted in several lands once colonized by the British Empire. Reflecting on the struggle to confront colonized thinking both on a personal level and within institutions, Gandhi offers observations on the challenges that persist in higher education and acknowledges the ongoing challenges to reckoning with systems built to reinforce and support supremacist beliefs.

“Gone to God: How We Think About Heaven”
Producer Kimberly Winston talks with Catherine Wolff, an educator, and university chaplain, about her new book, “Beyond: How Humankind Thinks About Heaven,” which was published this summer. In it, Wolff explores the history of the ways the world’s religious traditions — large and small — have thought about where we go when we die. Much of what she reports is inspiring and hopeful, but there are hefty doses of sexism and racism in some heavens, too. Wolff discusses how the ways groups think about heaven reflect their earthly concerns.

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