barker on canadian settler colonialism


Adam J. Barker, “The Contemporary Reality of Canadian Imperialism: Settler Colonialism and the Hybrid Colonial State”, from American Indian Quarterly, Summer 2009.


My fundamental contention is this: Canadian society remains driven by the logic of imperialism and engages in concerted colonial action against Indigenous peoples whose claims to land and self-determination continue to undermine the legitimacy of Canadian authority and hegemony. While concepts such as colonialism or imperialism tend to conjure up dated images and notions of pre-twentieth-century European adventurism, the imperial reality of contemporary Canada is quite different. In order to understand how colonialism as an ideology that generates power for imperial elites is expressed in Canada, it is necessary to understand two key points: first, the nature of contemporary imperialism and the role Canada plays in an imperial system that extends geographically beyond borders and internally into individual lives; second, the nature of Canadian society as a Settler society and the channels that are created for colonial force through the Settler identity of the majority population of the Canadian state. I assert that colonialism as it is carried out internally in the Canadian state follows some aspects of established frameworks of contemporary imperialism but that understanding the unique identity of Settler peoples and assessing the power dynamics in the Canadian state are required for an accurate and useful model of Canadian colonialism. These two concepts allow for a discussion of the Canadian “society of control,” which pits Settler and Indigenous peoples against each other and Indigenous societies against themselves and benefits government and corporate elites at the expense of individual and collective autonomy.

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