Settler Colonialism


The Colonizer and the Colonized

Albert Memmi was born in 1920 in Tunisia, a French protectorate, of a Tunisian Jewish mother.  He claims to be of Berber ancestry and at an early age realised he was a native in a country oppressed by a colonial European power, writing this classic work in 1957.

He saw his Jewish community  distance itself from the majority Arab Muslim community, both native groups colonised and oppressed – “unlike the Muslims, they passionately endeavoured to identify themselves with the French.  To them the West was the paragon of all civilisation, all culture..The Jew turned his back happily on the East.  My own relations with my fellow Jews were not made any easier when I decided to join the colonised.” (Preface, 1965)

“Colonialism creates the patriotism of the colonised.  Kept at the level of the beast by an oppressive system, the natives are given no rights, not even the right to live.  Their condition worsens daily.  And when a people has no choice but how it will die; when a people has received from its oppressors only the gift of despair, what does it have to lose?”

From the introduction by Jean-Paul Sartre, Paris, 1957



Tony Abbott – Prime Minister of a then unsettled, or, um, scarcely settled Great South Land

“I guess our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled, Great South Land,” declared Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott as he delivered the keynote address to the Australian-Melbourne Institute on the 3rd of July, 2014.  Settler colonial projects share a common terminology, as in the Zionist refrain describing Palestine as ” a land without a people for a people without a land”, the subtext being “a land without a European people for a European people without a land”.  There is no membership in the new colony nor any human rights for natives who aren’t there – whether the colonised land is settled or  scarcely settled, the indigenous presence is irrelevant to the settler colonial project, and insofar as the native population presents a problem for settlers, the essence of that problem is simply that they are there.

Read more in The Guardian  , the newspaper the Prime Minister described in another context as a “left-wing British newspaper”, unwittingly self-describing his own Government in the process, which nevertheless received 8.2 million unique visitors per month in May, 2013


Third Friday of Ramadan, Qalandiya Checkpoint, West Bank, 26.7.2

Settler Colonialism and the State of Exception : The Example of Palestine / Israel

DAVID LLOYD – University of Southern California – Publisher: Routledge – Taylor and Francis Group – ABSTRACT

“Discourse on Israel, both propagandistic and analytical, has the peculiar tendency of representing it at one moment as normal – a normal democracy, a normal Western society, a normal state – and at others as exceptional: a democracy uniquely embattled among hostile neighbors, a secular state that historically fulfills the religious destiny of a people, a democracy that defines itself as a state for a single people and religion, the only democracy in the region, and so forth. At times, defenders of Israel lay claim to its normality as the reason to exempt it from the norms of human rights and international law, at others complain that Israel is being ‘singled out’ for criticism. This paper argues that these apparent contradictions, over and above their value to public relations opportunism, can best be explained by understanding Israel’s occupation of Palestine as an exemplary settler colonial project whose contradictions are embedded in the early framing of Zionism and whose unfolding follows a logic long ago analyzed by Albert Memmi and other theorists of settler colonialism.”

Read more …


California, land of the free ?

“In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Euro-American citizenry of California carried out mass genocide against the Native population of their state, using the processes and mechanisms of democracy to secure land and resources for themselves and their private interests.

The murderIMG_0028, rape and enslavement of thousands of Native people were legitimised by notions of democracy – in this case mob rule – through a discreetly organised and brutally effective series of petitions, referenda, town hall meetings and votes at every level of California government.”

“Cannot some plan be devised to remove them (Indians) from our midst ?  Could they not be removed to a plantation in the vicinity of our city, and put under the control of an overseer, and not be permitted to enter the city, except by special permit of the Superintendent ?  Our citizens who are in want of their labour could apply direct to the Superintendent for such help as they might want, and when their work was finished, permit them to return to their home.”  Los Angeles Star (1856)IMG_0029

“That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected; while we cannot anticipate this result with but painful regret, the inevitable destiny of the race is beyond the power and wisdom of man to avert.”
Peter H. Burnett, governor of California, “Address to the Legislature” (1852)
Murder State
California’s Native American Genocide, 1846-1873
Brendan C. Lindsay
University of Nebraska Press
Lindsay maintains the destruction of California’s Indian population is an act of genocide as defined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944, read an excerpt from the Introduction to Murder State.