St Paul st Gallery AUT


Aloha is the intelligence with which we meet life. – Olana A‘i, Kumu Hula

Ko au ko koe, ko koe ko au (I am you and you are me) – whakatauki

Embracing a love ethic means that we utilize all the dimensions of love—"care, commitment, trust, responsibility, respect, and knowledge "—in our everyday lives. We can successfully do this only by cultivating awareness. Being aware enables us to critically examine our actions to see what is needed so that we can give care, be responsible, show respect, and indicate a willingness to learn. – bell hooks

Of the three kaupapa, Love is the one that speaks most directly to attitude. Attitude is used as per social and political theory scholar Nelson Maldonado-Torres’s study of coloniality and decoloniality. Maldonado-Torres developed a relationship between ‘attitude’ and ‘project’, where he places decoloniality as both attitude and unfinished project that seeks to “build the world of [the] you.”[1] Maldonado-Torres’s ‘world of the you’, which comes from Frantz Fanon, means in building attitude we should develop one that even as it may rage against injustice as a form of negation it is pursued with the positive attitude of love.

Love most clearly expresses being in relation to and with; “knowing something is bound to how we develop a relationship with it.”[2] The way we understand, view, engage with, deploy and value concepts and practices of our language and knowledge reveals our attitude. To come with an attitude of love means valuing our interconnectedness, our relationality of ourselves to each other and to a bigger universal presence, or as Hawaiian scholar Manulani Aluli Meyer writes, to develop “an epistemology of spirit.” [3]

In order to unpick the effects of modernity-coloniality we need understand it, its construction and recognise it as a dominating paradigm. What that means will be different for different people, for some it is a reclaiming of culture, histories and language, for others it is realising their privilege within the system and finding ways to address it. For everyone, it is about self-reflection and self-love from which comes a different consciousness. This requires what, for many is a radical shift, because as Audre Lorde tells us “the consciousness that solves a problem can no longer be the same consciousness that developed it.”[4]


  • The Environment. Non-human agents. Personhood of Te Urewera and Whanganui river. Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au (I am the river and the river is me).
  • Politics of love. Max Harris “The politics of love is possible only in a world where politics is driven by values…” “A politics of love is a politics motivated by love. It requires politicians to enter Parliament for generous reasons.” It calls on them to search their consciences…” (Harris, 2016, 142, 144)
  • Good love and bad love: Michael Hardt has written about “love of the same” which is described as “a perversion of love of neighbour: the love of those genetically similar (family and race) and those geographically closest (nation) becomes the most prized.” Love, however is “linked to a second essential element that holds groups together: learning. The love of the multitude is dependent on our capacity to learn new things…Hardt likens love to muscles, which become fit through specific regimes or practices, and this fitness can never be achieved alone because love is social in character.” (Laurie and Stark, 2017, 73-74)

Questions to consider:

What do we understand when we talk about love?

How do we develop and work with an attitude of love?

What is decolonial love?

What is a politics of love?


[1] Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Outline of Ten Theses on Coloniality and Decoloniality, Frantz Fanon Foundation, 23 October 2016, 23. Accessed 18 July 2017.

[2] Manulani Aluli Meyer, ‘Indigenous and authentic: Hawaiian epistemology and the triangulation of meaning’, in Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, Sage Publications 2008/2014 (online), 11. Accessed 22 March 2018

[3] Ibid. 4.

[4] Ibid, Meyer, 21, citing Jean Houston Jump Time.