The Concept of Settler Colonialism

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In her article titled, Settler Colonialism as Structure: A Framework for Comparative Studies of U.S. Race and Gender Formation, Evelyn Nakano Glenn stated what settler colonialism implies, she argued that the object of settler colonialism is not only to acquire land but also to gain control over the resources available (Glenn). In order to realize such ambitions, what must be done first is to get rid of the indigenous occupants of the respective land and that can be achieved in various ways such as genocide, obligatory removal from the territories valued by white settlers, and incarceration to areas outside the white settlement boundaries.

In the settler colonial genocide context, it means that the indigenous people are the target of mass cultural destruction and the cultural, moral, and legal meaning of being human was described as being non-indigenous. The knowledge of indigenous people is erased from their bodies via mass violations of human rights and state violence. This means that collective punishment is deployed by the state towards indigenous people because of the simple reason of being Indigenous (Glenn). The practice of settler colonialism happens to be a compartment of colonial history in which a particular cultural practice was a convert of the colonial relationship. According to Evelyn Nakano Glenn, settler colonialism is a practice in which the “settler culture” tends to seek a permanent residency in a colonial setting and consequently enters an unremitting cultural sense of blindness and misrecognition towards the indigenous group by issuing acts of cultural destruction and objective cruelty. Since this relationship is in terms of culture which is prior to a specific individual while forming that individual simultaneously, it is a kind of relationship that is not easy to ignore.

Despite this reflection, this is not the kind of world that one would want to live in. Therefore the word "settler" and why it is used, that brings in the effective and intimate relationships to social, ancestral, cultural, political, and economic presents and histories that shape this world, does not necessarily result in pride, instead, it leads to shame, alienation, frustration and anger towards the settlers and the settler colonialism structure. Such feelings although potentially symbolizes an opening, it is an under-realized interdependence recognition. But these feelings are not adequate (Glenn). After all, one cannot criticize this world or declare that it does not fulfill one’s desires and except it to change on its own. Nor can one ignore the differentials of power among settlers since those willful acts risk the installation of the decolonial engine. Instead, if these desires and concurrent feelings of frustrations, shame, anger, and alienation are to be transformative and should be accompanied by practice and thought attentive to the relative sources; they should be guided by respect and accountability, renewal and care, with insurgency and urgency, to tackle and obliterate the scrounging relationship that existed among and between indigenous people and the settlers and to support the good relations that is already in existence and the ones that people wish to build between the indigenous peoples and the settlers.

There exist essential analytical methods and insights provided by the settler colonialism frameworks, and that settler colonialism helps people to work towards a high-level hypothetical level that can be used broadly by social scientists both internationally and in the U.S.

Works Cited

Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. "Settler colonialism as structure: A framework for comparative studies of US race and gender formation." Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 1.1 (2015): 52-72.

November 13, 2023


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