Keywords: Melissa Free, ‘Settler Colonialism’, VLC, 3-4, 2018, pp. 876-882


Excerpt: British settler colonies, colonies of occupation, and plantation colonies were built on unequal relationships between colonizer and colonized, and entailed the correlative exploitation of distant land, labor, and other resources. While distinguishing between them is useful, the terms themselves are Eurocentric constructs, even as they denote material realities; the lines between them are not hard and fast; and no two colonies were exactly alike. British residents of colonies of occupation (like India and Hong Kong) were temporary and largely male. These merchants, missionaries, soldiers, and administrators (who, particularly in the latter two cases, sometimes moved between colonies) formed a “thin white line” of control over indigenous populations. British residents of planation colonies (like those in the Caribbean) were only somewhat more permanent. These mostly upper-class plantation owners often spent months or even years in Britain, where their wives and children, if they had them, were as likelyas not to reside. Because the Caribbean’s indigenous population had been all but destroyed through contact with earlier European settlers, the British generated a labor force by importing Africans as slaves and Indians as indentured servants. Though non-whites outnumbered whites significantly, resistance—to poor working conditions, slavery (pre-1833), and other forms of inequality—was met with brutal reprisal. As in colonies of occupation, resources flowed out.

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