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The Medium Is the Medicine

The Medium Is the Medicine

(p.1) 1 The Medium Is the Medicine
The Story of Radio Mind
Pamela E. Klassen
University of Chicago Press

This chapter introduces Frederick Du Vernet and his daughter Alice, as they experiment with their Chevreul’s pendulum to prove the power of radio mind, or telepathic thought transmission. Working in British Columbia, Frederick and Alice participated in wider settler-colonial practices of telling spiritual stories to claim Indigenous land. Those who worked at the margins and the center of colonial power, including missionaries, Indian agents, and politicians, talked spiritually when asserting the legitimacy of Canadian sovereignty and when bringing the railway—the spinal cord of colonialism—to Indigenous land. At the same time, Indigenous peoples insisted on their own sovereignty, sometimes even with the help of the same spiritual logics, rituals, and tools of mediation (including the Bible and the printing press) brought to them by missionaries. Turning to the work of scholars such as Thomas King and Edward Chamberlin, the chapter lays out a theory of storytelling as the practice of belief in which the particularity of the story’s medium matters for its power. The chapter concludes with reflections on how testimony and confession are taking on new significance around the world through government-sponsored processes of apology, truth, and reconciliation for colonial violence and dispossession.

Keywords:   British Columbia, spiritual stories, medium, practice of believing, truth and reconciliation, Thomas King, Edward Chamberlin, colonial dispossession, Frederick Du Vernet, missionaries

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