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What on Earth is Going on? is a podcast for the curious, where small talk is banned and tangents are prized. Strap yourself in for genuine dialogues with people who think deeply and are ready to tackle the big questions, such as broadcaster Terry O'Reilly, economist Miles Corak and journalist Jessica Vomiero.

Join Ben Charland to peel back the headlines and ask, what are the forces, people and ideas that shape the human story today? Have things always been this nuts, or are they getting crazier by the day? From the Mafia to the Beavertonwomen in politics to women in leadershiphistory to artificial intelligence, and entrepreneurship in the digital age to the art of wheelchair fencing, just what on Earth is going on?

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Oct 25, 2019

We can't seem to talk about gambling without reference to its very real, very serious social problems -- whether it's the association with organized crime, the addictiveness, or the ruination of many people's lives. But what if we look at gambling through the lens of everyday life? Where does it come from, what does it say about us, and how should we manage it in our society?

Ben is in Edmonton to chat with University of Alberta gambling expert Fiona Nicoll.

About the Guest

My greatest strength as a researcher is the creation of interdisciplinary conversations about some of the most challenging political issues of our time, from cultural genocide and reconciliation to gambling policy, white nationalist movements and the challenges facing the neoliberal university. I apply this research expertise to facilitate public art and other knowledge transfer projects. In addition to producing a body of art writing for books and catalogues, I have curated, managed and produced media (including websites and film) related to whiteness, reconciliation and Indigenous sovereignties.

In 2002 I curated a social history exhibition for the Liverpool Regional Museum on the life of Aunty Nance DeVries, a survivor of the ‘stolen generations’ of Aboriginal children and speaker to the New South Wales Parliament on the occasion of the Government’s apology in 1997. Working with veteran documentary photographer, Mervyn Bishop and videographer, Sandra Peel, I drew upon and exhibited extracts from a large archive of documents about Nancy’s ‘case’, from her birth up to the age of eighteen when she was released from institutions of state care. Titled Ten Hours in a Lifetime (a reference to the time spent with her biological mother), this exhibition was the most popular in the museum’s history, with thousands of school children attending tours while it was on site, before later travelling to the New South Wales Parliament House.

In 2014-2015 I delivered a major project for the University of Queensland titled Courting Blakness: Recalibrating Knowledge in the Sandstone University. This project centred on the Great Court as the symbolic and material heart of the University of Queensland. Reflecting the University’s heritage, traditions and prestige, this gathering place and thoroughfare is also a space where images of Aboriginal people prior to, during and after the colonization of Australia are carved in sculptural reliefs. Curated by Fiona Foley, Courting Blakness entered a creative visual dialogue with these carvings. Works by eight Aboriginal artists (Archie Moore, Ryan Presley, r e a, Natalie Harkin, Megan Cope and Michael Cook, Christian Thompson and Karla Dickens) made the Great Court a unique staging platform for discussions about the relationship between Indigenous people and the University; the edited collection of essays published by UQP provides a permanent record of these discussions. While on site, it reached over 25,000 people, including 800 students across fourteen different courses through disciplinary specific frameworks of discussion and assessment tasks. It delivered staff training through public seminars and two university-wide ‘Diversity Discussions’ and provided over 1,000 hours of volunteer activity. The website attracted over 3031 unique users and was a valuable teaching, learning and research resource for the exhibition. It now forms a digital archive for future research on public art and universities.

As convenor of the 2017-2018 Political Science Department Speakers’ series, I brought scholars to campus to reflect on some of the most difficult questions raised by the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Speakers included Glen Coulthard, Audra Simpson, Jaskiran Dhillon, Robert Nichols, Jeremy Schmidt and Aileen Moreton-Robinson. I am currently producing a short film titled Afterlives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: What Comes Next? Directed by award winning Métis film-maker, Conor McNally, it will feature provocative research presentations by Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics and interviews with leaders of Prairie Aboriginal communities. The film will be used in classrooms and boardrooms to educate non-Indigenous people about the meaning and ramifications of ‘cultural genocide’ and current aspirations to national reconciliation.

Mentioned in this Episode

The Quote of the Week

"Gambling is a principle inherent in human nature."
- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)