Settler Colonialism is not Colonialism

  • Lorenzo Veracini


In November 2011 Science published a paper presenting research conducted by a team led by population geneticist Laurent Excoffier of the University of Montreal. This work repackaged in a genetics-inflected language a recurring tenet of settler colonial discourse, a point initially suggested by the apologists of the settler ‘transition’ of the nineteenth century and repeated since by their followers. The transition had transformed the anxious perception of rebarbarised Europeans living at the edge of civilisation. In Belich’s analysis, this was a momentous nineteenth-century transformation in the political imagination of emigration, a shift that radically altered the prospects of those who left the colonising cores for the settler peripheries of the ‘Angloworld’.1 One result of this shift was that settler pioneers could be represented as inherently better humans — better than the peoples they had left behind and certainly better than the indigenous peoples they encountered. If this discourse was once framed in racial terms against indigenous peoples and other colonised populations (the settlers’ ‘Others’), or as a regenerative experience on the ‘frontier’ against those who had not moved there (the settlers’ other ‘Others’), in 2011 it was expressed with reference to a more efficient capacity to shape the genetic pool of future populations. It was in the present that the superiority of an historical experience could and should now be measured:

Since their origin, human populations have colonized the whole planet, but the demographic processes governing range expansions are mostly unknown.


Indigenous People Settler Colonial Colonial Activity Settler Society Colonial Relationship 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Lorenzo Veracini 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorenzo Veracini
    • 1
  1. 1.Swinburne University of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

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