Stolen Lands, Broken Cultures: The Settler-Colonial Present


For some readers the theme of settler colonialism may suggest a preoccupation with the past. This collection finds settler colonialism is a practice that relies upon assumptions about other cultures that are alive and well in the most powerful societies in the contemporary world.

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Colonialism may have formally ended with the close of the Second World War but colonialism and the assumptions that support it live on in various forms. For those places where settlers came, colonized the land and stayed, the concept of settler colonialism marks out a distinct range of practices and experiences. They are key to understanding relations between peoples and cultures in such settler societies, and have ramifications on the world stage, for such assumptions are alive and well in the most powerful societies in the contemporary world.

There is little evidence that Western societies have learnt from the colonial experience that formed empires on a vast scale. While the West has grudgingly accepted that a range of political practices are no longer defensible (after the Suez debacle, for example), this is more a behavioural reorientation that an attempt to learn from or recognize distinct cultural specificities, or to bridge them on any kind of equal footing.

Whether in the Australian example, that of the United States or of Israel-Palestine, Enlightenment notions of exceptional cultures continue to underpin policies and practices of cruelty and domination. Many Enlightenment philosophers justified racist programs that attempted to eliminate indigenous peoples on a genocidal scale. The Nazis drew directly on the settler-inspired practices of the United States. Yet the West continues to proclaim its innocence, to intervene where it sees fit, and to dress up assimilation and cultural destruction as neoliberal advancement.

Stolen Lands, Broken Cultures: The Settler-Colonial Present takes readers to a variety of settings that have felt the genocidal edge of settler assumptions: from the United States to South Africa to Hawaii to the devastated lands of the Palestinians.

It addresses past and contemporary intervention in Australia. Above all, it seeks to develop an understanding of how settler assumptions are a significant, even defining, element of the underside of the contemporary global world.