Settle This One For Me

A pro-Palestinian protester holds up a sign during a march in London, United Kingdom, on October 21, 2023. (Photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Dear Reader (Don’t worry, we won’t fine you if your kids are unruly while you read this),

Let’s talk about “settler colonialism.”

This appears to be one of these phrases that gives people permission to justify murder and rape—of “settler colonists.” Patrick Wolfe is often credited with coining the term in the 1990s, though he drew on work going back to the 1960s. Here’s a relevant passage from Wikipedia:

During the 1960s, settlement and colonization were perceived as separate phenomena from colonialism. Settlement endeavors were seen as taking place in empty areas, downplaying the Indigenous inhabitants. Later on in the 1970s and 1980s, settler colonialism was seen as bringing high living standards in contrast to the failed political systems associated with classical colonialism. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the field of settler colonial studies was established distinct but connected to Indigenous studies. Although often credited with originating the field, Australian historian Patrick Wolfe stated that “I didn’t invent Settler Colonial Studies. Natives have been experts in the field for centuries.”  Additionally, Wolfe’s work was preceded by others that have been influential in the field, such as Fayez Sayegh’s Zionist Colonialism in Palestine and Settler Capitalism by Donald Denoon.

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