Settler colonialism is an inclusive, land-centred project that coordinates a comprehensive range of agencies, from the metropolitan centre to the frontier encampment, with a view to eliminating Indigenous societies. -Patrick Wolfe

  • Course: ANTH 897-077 Settler Colonialism (Spring 2012)
  • Classroom: Alumni 304
  • Days/Hours: Monday 2-4:45pm
  • Instructor: Jean Dennison
  • Office: Alumni 409E
  • E-mail:
  • Office Hours: 2:00-3:00 pm Wed/Friday (or by appointment)

This class will be framed around a series of ethnographies that explore the varied impact of late 20th and early 21st century European settlement across the globe. In focusing on both the varied global legacies of colonialism and the continued socio-political movements of indigenous populations, this class will encourage a broad perspective on what settler colonialism looks like today. Through the use of case studies, students will not only be exposed to many different colonial and anticolonial processes, but they will also gain perspective on how evidence is collected and deployed in the writing of ethnography. In addition to leading class discussion on the weekly readings, students will formulate a specific research question, identify key primary and secondary sources to be discussed in class, write a research proposal, and complete a final paper.


Upon completion of the course, students should be able to: 1) recognize both the forces and impacts of settler colonialism, 2) provide various examples of how this process manifests itself across the globe, 3) lead class discussion based on weekly readings, 4) formulate a research question related to settler colonialism, identify key evidence, write a research proposal and a conference paper.


Because this is a hands-on and discussion-oriented class, attendance is critical. The format of the class necessitates that everyone not only come to class, but come having thoroughly read and processed the materials assigned. Credit for participation cannot be made up. If you cannot attend class you must talk to the professor before the class begins. Because we only meet once a week, more than one absence without a written excuse in advance will affect your grade. All assignments are known well in advance; therefore, opportunities for make-up work or permission to hand in an assignment late are only granted for exceptional circumstances. If you feel that your situation is such, contact the professor before your assignment is due and provide her with a written medical excuse.


Participation (30%): If you do not attend class, you cannot participate. Therefore, attendance is required (see policy on attendance above). Furthermore, there is no way to make an “H” in the class if you do not come to class with a solid understanding of the reading and actively participate in class each week.

At all times, we need to remember to respect each other's ideas and comments. Learning to be a good researcher and writer is about learning to listen and consider other peoples' viewpoints carefully and thoughtfully as well as engaging with texts. Many of us will be unfamiliar with some if not all of the course material. If you don't understand a word or concept, look it up prior to class.

Participating in activities not directly related to the class during class time (such as the use of personal technologies) will automatically result in a loss of participation points for the day.

Leading Class Discussion (20%): Each discussion week, one student will lead class discussion. When it is your turn, you will be required to lead class discussion for the full class period. Your job will primarily be to craft a list of discussion questions, which bring attention to specific passages from the reading for the week and engage the class in discussion. You should also be able to provide additional background and your own reading of the material to help facilitate the discussion.

On your assigned day of class, you will start by asking a series of probing and provocative questions about the assigned book and/or articles. You may set up these questions by providing some background to the materials. Then, you will begin to lead the class in a discussion of the answers to these questions. As we all work through your questions as well as others that come up in the context of the discussion, we will articulate our own reading(s) of the materials. You will need to email the instructor an indication of the weeks you would like to present by week three.  

Final Project (50 percent): All students in the class must complete a research-based project related to the theme of settler colonialism. The project must engage the readings and discussion from the class as well as context specific primary and secondary sources. The standard final project will result in a 10-page (double-spaced) conference paper, which will be presented to the class. Other formats may be accepted with prior approval from the instructor. The final project is broken into the following parts:

Research Proposal Draft (10%): In week 10 (3.12) students will produce a two-page research proposal and bibliography of selected sources, both primary and secondary. Each will be discussed at length in class and revisions will be proposed.

Final Research Proposal (10%): The final version of the two-page research proposal and bibliography must be emailed to the professor (as a pdf) before class on 3.19.

Draft Conference Paper (10%): In week 14 (4.9) students will present a draft of their 10-page conference paper. Each will be discussed at length in class and revisions will be proposed.

Final Conference Paper Presentation (20%): The final version of the ten-page conference paper must be emailed to the professor (as a pdf) before class on 4.23. Students will then present their papers to the class.


Honor Code

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has had a student-administered honor system and judicial system for over 100 years. The system is the responsibility of students and is regulated and governed by them, but faculty share the responsibility. If you have questions about your responsibility under the honor code, please bring them to your instructor or consult with the office of the Dean of Students or the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance at: This document, adopted by the Chancellor, the Faculty Council, and the Student Congress, contains all policies and procedures pertaining to the student honor system. Your full participation and observance of the honor code is expected.

Plagiarism in the form of deliberate or reckless representation of another's words, thoughts, images or ideas as one's own without attribution in connection with submission of academic work, whether graded or otherwise. Plagiarism will not be tolerated in this class and will result in a failing grade for the class and suspension for one academic semester. Materials for class assignments should be produced specifically for this class unless prior approval from the professor is granted.

There are eight required books:

All of these books are available through the University bookstores or the internet. All other readings are provided on Sakai under resources.

Readings are generally around 200 pages per week, and will often be challenging. Your participation grade will suffer if you cannot discuss this material articulately in class each week. All assignments are due prior to the start of class.


Week 1 (1.9) - Introduction to Course

Introduce course and discuss syllabus.


Weeks 2 (1.16) - No Class


Weeks 3 (1.23) - Colonialisms

Introduce research interests. Discuss readings.

Due: Email top 5 week choices for leading discussion. Paragraph about how research interests relate to class.

Readings for class: Stoler, Ann. Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002: 1-40.

Wolfe, Patrick. "Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native." Journal of Genocide Research 8:4, 2006: 387-409.

Wolfe, Patrick. "Race and the Trace of History." In Studies in Settler Colonialism, 272-296. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011: 272-296.

Young, Robert. Postcolonialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003: 1-25.

Mbembe, Achille. On the Postcolony. 1st ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001: 24-101.


Weeks 4 (1.30) - Sovereignty

Discuss reading.

Readings for class: Bruyneel, Kevin. The Third Space of Sovereignty: The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.-Indigenous Relations. Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2007: xi-25, 97-121, 171-230

Trask, Haunani. "Hawaiians and Human Rights." In From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1999: 25-40.

Rifkin, Mark. "Indigenizing Agamben: Rethinking Sovereignty in Light of the 'Peculiar' Status of Native Peoples." Cultural Critique 72 (Fall 2009): 88-124.


Weeks 5 (2.6) - Culture

Discuss reading.    

Readings for class:  Povinelli, Elizabeth A. The Cunning of Recognition: Indigenous Alterities and the Making of Australian Multiculturalism. Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press, 2002: 1-69, 153-185.

Barker, Joanne. Native Acts: Law, Recognition, and Cultural Authenticity. Duke University Press, 2011: 1-97, 217-228.


Week 6 (2.13) - Whiteness

Discuss reading.   

Readings for class: Harris, C.I. "Whiteness as Property." Harv. L. Rev. 106 (1993): 1707-1791.

Mcintosh, Peggy "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" In Race, Class, and Gender (1988) by Patricia Hill Collins: 1-6.

Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. Whitening Race: Essays in Social and Cultural Criticism. Aboriginal Studies Press, 2004: 17-88, 119-130.

Patchett, Vanessa. "Invisible Whiteness." Video Produced for Visual Anthropology seminar (2011).


Weeks 7 (2.20) - Race

Discuss reading.

Readings for class: Kauanui, J. Kehaulani. Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity. Duke University Press, 2008: 1-98, 145-196.

Harmon, Alexandra. "Tribal Enrollment Councils: Lessons on Law and Indian Identity." Western Historical Quarterly 32, no. 2 (2001): 175-200.

Strong, P. T, and B. Van Winkle. "'Indian Blood': Reflections on the Reckoning and Refiguring of Native North American Identity." Cultural Anthropology (1996): 547–576.


Week 8 (2.27) - Methods

Discuss reading.

Due: Email research topic.

Readings for class: Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books, 1999: 1-199.

Atalay, S. "Multivocality and Indigenous Archaeologies." Evaluating Multiple Narratives: Beyond Nationalist, Colonialist, Imperialist Archaeologies (2008): 29-43.


Weeks 9 (3.5) - Spring Break          


Weeks 10 (3.12) - Draft Proposal

Present and discuss research proposals. Discuss assigned readings.     

Due: Draft research proposal.

Readings for class: Reading assigned based on topic.


Week 11 (3.19) - Violence

Discuss reading.

Due: Final research proposal.

Readings for class: Feldman, Allen. Formations of Violence: the Narrative of the Body and Political Terror in Northern Ireland. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991: 1-45 and 85-217.

Peteet, Julie. Words as Interventions: Naming in the Palestine Israel Conflict Third World Quarterly 26(1), 2005: 153-172.

Allen, Lori. "Getting By the Occupation." Cultural Anthropology 23, no. 3, 2008: 453-487.


Week 12 (3.26) - Nation Building

Discuss reading.

Readings for class: Lambert, Valerie. Choctaw Nation: A Story of American Indian Resurgence. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007: 1-110, 157-262.


Week 13 (4.2) - Gender and Sexuality

Discuss reading. 

Readings for class: Morgensen, Scott Lauria. Spaces between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization. Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2011: 1-54.

Rifkin, Mark. When Did Indians Become Straight?: Kinship, the History of Sexuality, and Native Sovereignty. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011: 181-232

Simpson, A. "Captivating Eunice: Membership, Colonialism, and Gendered Citizenships of Grief." Wicazo Sa Review 24, no. 2 (2009): 105-129.

Goeman, M. R. "Notes toward a Native Feminism's Spatial Practice." Wicazo Sa Review 24, no. 2 (2009): 169–187.

Hokowhitu, Brendan. "Tackling Maori Masculinity: A Colonial Genealogy of Savagery and Sport." The Contemporary Pacific 16, no. 2 (2004): 259-284.


Week 14 (4.9) - Rough Conference Paper

Present rough drafts and discuss needed changes.     

Due: Rough draft 


Week 15 (4.16) - Narrative

Discuss reading.

Readings for class: Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012: 1-230.


Week 16 (4.23) - Final Conference Paper

Present final projects and discuss.

Due: Final presentations








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