Hawaiian child reading news of the passage of the Hawaiian statehood bill

What is Settler Colonialism? Land, Sovereignty, and Violence

Instructor: Theodra Bane
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

How and in what ways is settler colonialism a distinct form of political control? The displacement and destruction of Native peoples by invading outsiders is a constant of political history. So, what does it mean to call a particular state—the U.S., for example—a settler colony? And, why is settler colonialism a useful, perhaps necessary, framework for rethinking not only U.S. history (and the history of other settler colonial states), but also contemporary issues of land access, representation, racism, and sovereignty? What does it mean to view the violence as a structure, as a mode of economic and state formation, and not as a series of singular, disconnected events?

In this course, an introduction to the political theory of settler colonialism, we will analyze the relationship between liberal nation-states and foundational moments of violence against Native peoples. We’ll begin with an overview of the foundational philosophical doctrines, such as those of John Locke, that offered a groundwork and justification for settler colonialism as an integral part of the liberal project. Next, we’ll focus on various Indigenous theorizations, responses, and resistances to the settler colonial paradigm—from the insistence on treaty rights to warfare against genocidal forces and the occupation of stolen land. While we’ll focus primarily on the United States, we will engage with theorists across settler borders and in different colonial contexts. Reading will include work by Joanne Barker, Maggie Blackhawk, Jodi Byrd, Glen Coulthard, Iyko Day, Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz, Nick Estes, J Kehaulani Kauanui, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Tiffany L King, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Robert Nichols, María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, Audra Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Kim TallBear, Eve Tuck, Lorenzo Veracini, and Patrick Wolfe.

Course Schedule

Wednesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
May 10 — May 31, 2023
4 weeks


Registration Open