lorenzo veracini on history, indigeneity, and settler colonialism


Lorenzo Veracini, ‘Indigenes and Settlers (Fourth World)’, A Companion to Global Historical Thought (2014).

This chapter focuses on the reasons why history-writing remains so controversial in the settler national historiographies. The author argues that embracing a historical methodology or rejecting it altogether is part of a dilemma that is specific to the settler colonial “situation”. In doing so, he claims that the structuring relational distinction between “indigenous” peoples and settlers is ultimately a distinction between historical and ontological relations to land. The writing of history, however “history” may be defined, was bound to be crucial. If indigenous ontological relations to the land are often premised on emergence myths/creation stories, one crucial device for the denial of indigenous title and/or special rights is the so-called “tide of history” argument. Here is Waldron’s logic: Indigenous claims are based either on the principle of first occupancy or on the principle of prior occupancy; the two principles are not the same.

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