Our reading circle explored the concept and practices of settler colonialism across multiple contexts: Minneapolis, Palestine, and Alaska. The texts that we read spoke to our individual research interests as well as our commitment to tracing global crises that stem from the violent displacement of Indigenous communities in both the US and abroad. We were particularly interested in interrogating how settler colonialism strengthens and maintains white supremacy in a given place (e.g., Minneapolis, Palestine) and transnationally.
While the texts that we read all centered on different contexts, we identified and traced multiple themes across the readings. Each text provided rich accounts of the multifaceted ways that Indigenous communities resist settler colonialism. The settler logic that “the old will die and the young will forget” has proven untenable. Indigenous resistance is ongoing, demonstrating that settler colonialism is a failed project and therefore an ongoing one.
Against this backdrop of Indigenous resistance, a few patterns of settler colonialism emerged. We noted that settler colonialism necessarily includes the deliberate, strategic erasure of Indigenous people’s histories. This erasure makes it easier to overlook the violence – in all of its manifestations – in the places where settler colonialism operates. Indeed, the hegemonic control of narrative and memory is a powerful settler tool that advances settler colonial projects. Labeling Native Americans, for example, as pre-modern discursively constructs this group as always already non-existent in modernity; it effectively erases them from modern times.
Settler colonialism, however, includes more than the erasure of Indigenous histories and lives. The texts clarified the myriad ways in which settler colonial logics underscore economic structures, territorial claims and land rights, narratives and shared national myths, and much more. We were particularly struck by the far-reaching tendrils of settler colonialism that affect even our most intimate relationships, including marriage and births. Additionally, the structures that maintain and prolong settler colonialism often go unnoticed or are presumed natural and ordinary until you make an effort to notice them. Then, it is difficult to “un-see” the ongoing settler project. The last two texts we read (Khalid & Hu Pegues), however, also made clear that resistance and solidarity forged from shared socioeconomic and political positions are present in multi-faceted ways and across marginalized communities.
In our final session, we reflected on what we are taking from these readings into our teaching and research, including using some specific parts of the articles and books in our classes this term in conjunction with the Why Treaties Matter exhibit on campus; and expanding our vocabulary and frameworks for understanding and teaching about settler colonialism in our classes, including the concept of settler militarism.
Anita Chikkatur, Summer Forester, Zaki Haidar, Meredith McCoy and Eddie O’Byrn
Hu Pegues, Juliana. Space-Time Colonialism: Alaska’s Indigenous and Asian Entanglements. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021.
Hugill, David. “What Is a Settler‐Colonial City?” Geography Compass 11, no. 5 (2017).
———. “Settler Colonial Urbanism: Notes from Minneapolis and the Life of Thomas Barlow Walker.” Settler Colonial Studies 6, no. 3 (2016): 265–278.
———. “Metropolitan Transformation and the Colonial Relation: The Making of an ‘Indian Neighborhood’ in Postwar Minneapolis.” Middle West Review 2, no. 2 (2016): 169-199.
Khalidi, Rashid. The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2020.