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Settler colonialism is a specific colonial formation whereby foreign family units move into a region and reproduce. An imperial power oversees the immigration of these settlers who consent, often only temporarily, to government by that authority. This colonization leads, by a variety of means, to depopulation of the previous inhabitants, and the settlers take over the land left vacant by the previous residents. Unlike other forms of colonialism, the "colonizing authority" (the imperial power) is not always the same nationality as the "colonizing workforce" (the settlers) in cases of settler colonialism. The settlers are, however, generally viewed by the colonizing authority as racially superior to the previous inhabitants, giving their social movements and political demands greater legitimacy than those of colonized peoples in the eyes of the home government.
Land is the key resource in settler colonies, whereas natural (e.g. gold, cotton, oil) and human (e.g. labor, existing trade networks, convertible souls) resources are the main motivation behind other forms of colonialism. Normal colonialism typically ends, whereas settler colonialism lasts forever, except in the rare event of complete evacuation (e.g., the Lost Colony of Roanoke) or settler decolonization. The historian of race and settler colonialism Patrick Wolfe writes that "settler colonialism destroys to replace" and insists that "invasion", in settler colonial contexts, is "a structure, not an event".
This definition, by contrast, comes from the Settler Colonial Studies website:
Settler colonialism is a global and transnational phenomenon, and as much a thing of the past as a thing of the present. There is no such thing as neo-settler colonialism or post-settler colonialism because settler colonialism is a resilient formation that rarely ends. Not all migrants are settlers: settlers come to stay, and are founders of political orders who carry with them a distinct sovereign capacity. And settler colonialism is not colonialism: settlers want Indigenous people to vanish (but can make use of their labour before they are made to disappear). Sometimes settler colonial forms operate within colonial ones, sometimes they subvert them, sometimes they replace them. But even if colonialism and settler colonialism interpenetrate and overlap, they remain separate as they co-define each other.
In the ancient world
Settler colonialism has occurred extensively throughout human history, including in the ancient world.
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Greek settlers founded city-states through much of the coastlines of the Mediterranean. Under the Macedonian Empire, the Hellenistic pattern of settler colonies extended deep into Western Asia. However, many of the people living in these cities were non-ethnic Greeks who had adopted the dominant Ancient Greek language and its concomitant Hellenistic civilization.
The Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire commonly established settler colonies in newly conquered regions. The colonists in these colonies were often veterans of the Roman army, who received agricultural land to develop. These agricultural communities provided bastions of loyal citizens in often hostile areas of the Empire, and often accelerated the process of Romanisation among the nearby conquered peoples. For examples of such colonies: near the city of Damascus in present-day Syria, the contemporary settlements of Mezze and Deraya can trace their origins back to villages opened for settlement by the Romans during the third century CE. Philip the Arab, the Roman Emperor from 244 to 249 designated this area around Damascus a colonia, and encouraged settlement by veterans of the VI Ferrata legion, as commemorated by coins minted in the city around this time.
In early modern and modern times
During the early modern period, some European nation-states and their agents adopted policies of colonialism, competing with each other to establish colonies outside of Europe, at first in the Americas, and later in Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
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Europeans came and settled in Australia, in many cases displacing Indigenous Australians. The Indigenous Australian population, estimated at about 350,000 at the time of European settlement, declined steeply for 150 years following settlement from 1788, mainly because of infectious disease combined with forced re-settlement and cultural disintegration.
In the Middle East
In 1967 the French historian Maxime Rodinson wrote an article later translated and published in English as Israel: A Colonial Settler-State? Lorenzo Veracini describes Israel as a colonial state and writes that Jewish settlers could expel the British in 1948 only because they had their own colonial relationships inside and outside Israel's new borders. Veracini believes the possibility of an Israeli disengagement is always latent and this relationship could be severed, through an "accommodation of a Palestinian Israeli autonomy within the institutions of the Israeli state" (Veracini 2006) Other commentators, such as Daiva Stasiulis, Nira Yuval-Davis, and Joseph Massad (himself of Palestinian Arab descent) in the "Post Colonial Colony: time, space and bodies in Palestine/ Israel in the persistence of the Palestinian Question". have included Israel in their global analysis of settler societies.
Some Palestinians express similar opinions - writer and sociologist Jamil Hilal, member of the Palestinian National Council lives in what he describes as "the heavily-colonised West Bank", and drew parallels in 1976 between South African and Israeli settler colonialism, writes that "as in Southern Africa, stretches of land were acquired by the Zionist settlers [...] and their Arab tenants thrown out".  Former Palestinian Foreign Minister Dr. Nasser al-Qidwa opposes the policy of Israeli settlements and has described those efforts as colonialism.
However, a number of scholars and historians have objected to the idea that Zionism, and the State of Israel, are tantamount to settler colonialism. Avi Bareli, in his essay 'Forgetting Europe: Perspectives on the Debate about Zionism and Colonialism', argues that the "Colonialist School offered this alternative interpretation to replace the account of the return of the Jewish people to its land". Moreover, he asserts that it "ignores the economic, social, and cultural processes that spurred the Jews in Eastern Europe to emigrate to Palestine over decades in the twentieth century". Arnon Golan contends that "Zionism was not imperialist or colonialist in nature, but a national liberation movement that developed in eastern and central Europe, in conjunction with other national liberation movements in these regions" and that "Zionism was a diaspora national movement that aspired to promote its interests in the destined homeland through becoming a collaborator of imperial powers."
S. Ilan Troen, in 'De-Judaizing the Homeland: Academic Politics in Rewriting the History of Palestine', argues that Zionism was, in essence, the repatriation of a long displaced indigenous population in their historic homeland and that "Zionists did not see themselves as foreigners or conquerors, for centuries in the Diaspora they had been strangers". Troen further argues that there are several differences between European colonialism and the Zionist movement, including that "there is no New Vilna, New Bialystock, New Warsaw, New England, New York,...and so on" in Israel. He writes that "mandates were intended to nurture the formation of new states until independence and this instrument was to be applied to Jews, even as it was for the Arab peoples of Syria and Iraq. In this view, Jews were a people not only entitled to a state but that polity was naturally located in a part of the world in which they had originated, had been resident since the ancient world, and still constituted a vital presence in many areas of the region, including Palestine" and that "perhaps the most manifest or visible evidence—for those who would be willing to acknowledge—were found in the revival of Hebrew into a living language; the marking the landscape with a Jewish identity; and the development of an indigenous culture with roots in the ancient past." He concludes that "casting Zionists as colonizers serves to present them as occupiers in a land to which, by definition, they do not belong." Others such as Ran Aaronsohn, Michael J. Cohen, and Bernard Avishai have similarly attacked post-colonial criticism of Israel.
- Belich, James (2009). Replenishing the earth : the settler revolution and the rise of the Anglo-world, 1783-1939. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 573. ISBN 978-0-19-929727-6. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
- Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century (edited by Susan Pedersen and Caroline Elkins, Routledge, 2005)
- Irwin J. Mansdorf: Is Israel a Colonial State? Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
- Veracini, Lorenzo (2010). Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave MacMillan. p. 182. ISBN 9780230284906.
- Patrick Wolfe, "Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native", Journal of Genocide Research, 2006.
- http://settlercolonialstudies.org/about-this-blog/ Settler Colonial Studies
- Burns, Ross. Damascus: a history. Routledge. pp. 76, 85. ISBN 978-0-415-27105-9.
- Smith, L. (1980), The Aboriginal Population of Australia, Australian National University Press, Canberra
- Rodinson, Maxime. "Israel, fait colonial?" Les Temps Moderne, 1967. Republished in English as Israel: A Colonial Settler-State?, New York, Monad Press, 1973.
- "Israel could celebrate its anticolonial/anti-British struggle exactly because it was able to establish a number of colonial relationships within and without the borders of 1948." Lorenzo Veracini, Borderlands, vol 6 No 2, 2007.
- Veracini, Lorenzo, "Israel and Settler Society", London: Pluto Press. 2006.
- Unsettling Settler Societies: Articulations of Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Class, Vol. 11, Nira Yuval-Davis (Editor), Daiva K Stasiulis (Editor), Paperback 352pp, ISBN 978-0-8039-8694-7, August 1995 SAGE Publications.
- "Post Colonial Colony: time, space and bodies in Palestine/ Israel in the persistence of the Palestinian Question", Routledge, NY, (2006) and "The Pre-Occupation of Post-Colonial Studies" ed. Fawzia Afzal-Khan and Kalpana Rahita Seshadri. (Durham: Duke University Press)
- "IMPERIALISM AND SETTLER-COLONIALISM IN WEST ASIA: ISRAEL AND THE ARAB PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE." Jamil Hilal, UTAFITI journal of the arts and social sciences, University of Dar Es Salaam. 1976.
- "a classical colonialist phenomenon" Speech: Dr. Nasser al-Qidwa, former Palestinian Foreign Minister, Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre, November 2006.
- Bareli, Israeli Historical Revisionism: From Left to Right, pp. 99-100
- Arnon, Space and Polity, p. 140-141
- Zionist "Colonialism": Myth and Dilemma, 1975