Settler Societies and Indigenous Peoples


Settler societies are a particular type of colonial society, in which settlers set out to take over the lands of indigenous peoples. In this course we focus on four settler societies that share a common British heritage - Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA. Settler colonialism creates specific identities for settler and indigenous peoples and relationships between them. These identity politics will be the central focus of this course. We will also explore: the political and economic nature of the settler colonial project; the role of remembering and forgetting of colonial history; indigenous strategies of resistance and survival; settler state policies of "recognition" and "reconciliation"; and arguments and strategies of decolonisation.

The course aims to:

  • Develop an understanding of the key dynamics of settler colonialism and how these structure indigenous-settler relations in the colonial present
  • Investigate the dynamics of remembering and forgetting of colonial history in our landscape
  • Develop a critical understanding of the identity politics of settler societies
  • Introduce students to theories and practices of recognition in settler societies and to important critiques of these
  • Explore debates over the nature and possibilities of decolonisation in settler societies

When you have completed this course you will:

  • Be able to discuss the problems generated by colonial relations for both indigenous and settler identities
  • Have developed an awareness of links between the colonial past and present
  • Be able to critically assess theories of recognition that seek to ‘reconcile’ indigenous and settler interests
  • Have developed an understanding of possibilities for decolonisation
  • Have developed an extensive bibliography of literature in this field
  • Have written a critical research essay on a topic of your choice centring on either one of these countries or one particular theme of recognition politics
  • Be ready to develop your interest in this field into a masters thesis

Coursework – 100%

Availability 2024

Not taught in 2024


Lecturer(s) Dr Avril Bell


SOCIOL 746: 30 points