Settler colonialism

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Settler colonialism is a form of colonial formation whereby foreign family units move into a region. An imperial power oversees the immigration of these settlers who consent, often only temporarily, to government by that authority. This colonization sometimes 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 indefinitely, 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".[1]

This definition, by contrast, comes from the Settler Colonial Studies website:[2]

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[edit]

Settler colonialism has occurred extensively throughout human history, including in the ancient world.

Hellenes[edit]

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.

Rome[edit]

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.[3]

In early modern and modern times[edit]

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.

Territories in the Americas claimed by a European great power in 1750

In Americas[edit]

European colonization of the Americas began as early as the 10th century, when Norse sailors explored and settled limited areas on the shores of present-day Greenland and Canada.[4] According to Norse folklore, violent conflicts with the indigenous population ultimately made the Norse abandon those settlements.

Extensive European colonization began in 1492, when a Spanish expedition headed by Genoese Christopher Columbus sailed west to find a new trade route to the Far East but inadvertently found the Americas. European conquest, large-scale exploration, colonization and industrial development soon followed. Columbus's first two voyages (1492–93) reached the Bahamas and various Caribbean islands, including Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Cuba. In 1497, sailing from Bristol on behalf of England, John Cabot landed on the North American coast, and a year later, Columbus's third voyage reached the South American coast. As the sponsor of Christopher Columbus's voyages, Spain was the first European power to settle and colonize the largest areas, from North America and the Caribbean to the southern tip of South America. Spanish cities were founded as early as 1496 with Santo Domingo in today's Dominican Republic.

Other powers such as France also founded colonies in the Americas: in eastern North America, a number of Caribbean islands, and small coastal parts of South America. Portugal colonized Brazil, tried early (since 1499) colonizing of the coasts of present-day Canada, and sat for extended periods on the northwest bank of the River Plate (including it in the Brazilian region). This was the beginning of a dramatic territorial expansion for several European countries. Europe had been preoccupied with internal wars, and was only slowly recovering from the loss of population caused by the bubonic plague; thus the rapid rate at which it grew in wealth and power was unforeseeable in the early 1400s.[5]

Eventually, the entire Western Hemisphere came under the ostensible control of European governments, leading to profound changes to its landscape, population, and plant and animal life. In the 19th century alone over 50 million people left Europe for the Americas.[6] The post-1492 era is known as the period of the Columbian Exchange, a dramatically widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations (including slaves), communicable disease, and ideas between the American and Afro-Eurasian hemispheres following Columbus's voyages to the Americas.

In Oceania[edit]

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,[7] declined steeply for 150 years following settlement from 1788, mainly because of infectious disease combined with forced re-settlement and cultural disintegration.

In Africa[edit]

In the Middle East[edit]

Republic of Turkey (Turkish Kurdistan)[edit]

The Turkification of predominantly Kurdish areas in country's East and South-East were also bound in the early ideas and policies of the modern Turkish nationalism, going back to as early as 1918 (the manifesto of Turkish nationalist Ziya Gokalp "Turkification, Islamization and Modernization").[8] The evolving Young Turk conscience adopted a specific interpretation of progressism, a trend of though which emphasizes the human ability to make, improve and reshape human society, relying of science, technology and experimentation.[9] This notion of social evolution was used to support and justify policies of population control - not unlike European colonialism.[9] The paradigm of Kemalism rationalized the deportation-and-settlement program, reinforced with opinions of senior Young Turks that "In this country only the Turkish nation has the right to claim ethnic and racial rights. Nobody else has such a right".[9] The Kurdish rebellions provided a comfortable pretext for Turkish Kemalists to implement such ideas, and in 1926 the Settlement Law was issued. It created a complex pattern of interaction between state of society, in which the regime favored its people in a distant geography, populated by locals marked as hostile (in this regard, according to Prof. Caroline Elkins, the policy of governing a distant land to send settlers in order to reshape demographics there to resemble homeland is named 'settler colonialism').[9]

During the 1990s, a predominantly Kurdish-dominated Eastern and South-Eastern Turkey (Kurdistan) was depopulated due to the Turkey-PKK conflict.[8] Turkey depopulated and destroyed rural settlements on a large scale, resulting in massive resettlement of a rural Kurdish population in urban areas and leading to development and re-design of population settlement schemes across the countryside.[8] According to Dr. Joost Jongerden, Turkish settlement and re-settlement policies during the 1990s period were influenced by two different forces - the desire to expand administration to rural areas and an alternative view of urbanization, allegedly producing "Turkishness".[8]

Zionism and the State of Israel[edit]

In 1967 the French historian Maxime Rodinson wrote an article later translated and published in English as Israel: A Colonial Settler-State?[10] 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.[11] 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)[12] Other commentators, such as Daiva Stasiulis, Nira Yuval-Davis,[13] and Joseph Massad in the "Post Colonial Colony: time, space and bodies in Palestine/ Israel in the persistence of the Palestinian Question".[14] have included Israel in their global analysis of settler societies. Ilan Pappé describes Zionism and Israel in similiar terms.[15] Scholar Amal has stated, "Israel was created by a settler-colonial movement of Jewish immigrants".[16]

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".[17] Former Palestinian Foreign Minister Dr. Nasser al-Qidwa opposes the policy of Israeli settlements and has described those efforts as colonialism.[18]

According to a report by the FMEP issued in 2000, the settler population in the West Bank and Gaza strip grew from approximately 1,500 in 1972 to approximately 73,000 in 1989, and more than doubled that in 1998 to approximately 169,000. The report also describes demographics statistics indicating that, by place of birth, 78% of Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza were from Europe or America, 19% from Israel, 3% from Asia, and 1% from Africa.[19]

A number of scholars 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".[20] 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."[21]

S. Ilan Troen, in 'De-Judaizing the Homeland: Academic Politics in Rewriting the History of Palestine', argues that Zionism was the repatriation of a long displaced indigenous population to 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."[22] Others such as Michael J. Cohen,[23] and Bernard Avishai[24] have similarly rebutted criticism of the State of Israel as a settler-colonial state.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Patrick Wolfe, "Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native", Journal of Genocide Research, 2006.
  2. ^ http://settlercolonialstudies.org/about-this-blog/
  3. ^ Burns, Ross. Damascus: a history. Routledge. pp. 76, 85. ISBN 978-0-415-27105-9. 
  4. ^ Patrick Wolfe, "Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native", Journal of Genocide Research, 2006.
  5. ^ http://settlercolonialstudies.org/about-this-blog/
  6. ^ Burns, Ross. Damascus: a history. Routledge. pp. 76, 85. ISBN 978-0-415-27105-9. 
  7. ^ Smith, L. (1980), The Aboriginal Population of Australia, Australian National University Press, Canberra
  8. ^ a b c d Joost Jongerden. The Settlement Issue in Turkey and the Kurds - an Analysis of Spatial Policies, Modernity and War: p38. 2007.
  9. ^ a b c d Ugur Ümit Üngör‏. Making of modern Turkey: Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1950: pp,154. Oxford University Press. 2011.
  10. ^ Rodinson, Maxime. "Israel, fait colonial?" Les Temps Moderne, 1967. Republished in English as Israel: A Colonial Settler-State?, New York, Monad Press, 1973.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ Veracini, Lorenzo, "Israel and Settler Society", London: Pluto Press. 2006.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "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)
  15. ^ The Palestinian Enclaves Struggle: An Interview with Ilan Pappé, King's Review – Magazine
  16. ^ [1] Amal Jamal, Arab Minority Nationalism in Israel: The Politics of Indigeneity, Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern Politics, 2011.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ "a classical colonialist phenomenon" Speech: Dr. Nasser al-Qidwa, former Palestinian Foreign Minister, Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre, November 2006.
  19. ^ [2] Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories, FMEP, Volume 10, Number 4; July-August 2000, pp.10, 12
  20. ^ Bareli, Israeli Historical Revisionism: From Left to Right, pp. 99-100
  21. ^ Arnon, Space and Polity, p. 140-141
  22. ^ [3] De-Judaizing the Homeland: Academic Politics in Rewriting the History of Palestine, S. Ilan Troen, Israel Affairs, Volume 13, Issue 4, 2007
  23. ^ [4] Zionism and British imperialism II: Imperial financing in Palestine, Michael J. Cohen, Journal of Israeli History: Politics, Society, Culture; Volume 30, Issue 2, 2011
  24. ^ Zionist "Colonialism": Myth and Dilemma, 1975