PSCI 440
Settler Colonialism: What is it and what does it do? Fall 2024
Division II

Class Details

What is “settler colonialism” and what does it do? We hear the term often, and it carries connotations — usually of illegitimacy. But knowing that something is, or is supposed to be, bad does not tell us what it is. It does not tell us either whether or when a society that originated in what is called settler colonialism can outgrow its origins or whether it is forever defined by them. This course will consist of two parts. First, it will read several theoretical works on settler colonialism, identifying several key issues, and then will read a long account of the rise and fall of settler colonialism in Algeria. We will consider what settler colonialism is, what forms it comes in, and how it differs from other forms of colonialism, what prompts it, whether settlers, who usually are meant to be loyal to their colonial patrons remain loyal and when they shift to rebellion, and the nature of the colonial power (which is not always a state). We will also will consider the impact and responses of the prior populations. Do they choose to co-exist, co-operate, resist? And what does the imposition of settler colonialism do to their loyalties and collective identities? Do they retain their old identities or form new ones, and do the distinct groups that are amalgamated into the ‘colonized’ by natives become united or maintain earlier differences? Does their resistance build on their experiences with colonialism or does it revert to previous ways? And why does resistance almost always take the form of nationalism? The second part of the course will consist of a 25-page research paper on one aspect or another of the issue of settler colonialism. We will work together on how to define and refine a topic and how to pursue it. Students also will present the core of their paper to the class.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 1736
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Research paper, assigned readings, participation in class discussions, and presentation of research paper.
Prerequisites: 2 courses in comparative politics or permission of instructor.
Enrollment Preferences: Political Science majors specializing in the Comparative Politics subfield
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: PSCI Comparative Politics Courses

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