Settler colonialism is a habit: Deanna, L. Aubert, The Habits of Settlement: A Critical Phenomenology of Settlerness, MA dissertation, University of Western Ontario, 2020


Abstract: This thesis investigates the role of settlers in maintaining settlement in Canada. I problematize settler bodies to deliberate on their potential for performing decolonization. My discussion seeks to complicate theoretical approaches that position the ontoepistemological stance of the settler as their impediment to decolonizing action. Drawing from the fields of phenomenology and affect theory, I discuss habit formation in bodies. I use case studies that discuss settler-Indigenous land relations to ground these theories of habit. I look to Indigenous leaders, artists and scholars, who offer valuable insights into the habituations of settlement as an institutionalized arrangement and a mode of behavior. I argue that settlement is a structure that emerges through settler bodies by way of their
everyday being in the world. Performing settlement is therefore a habitual tendency for the settler who knows themselves in the world. A program for decolonization must address these habitual faculties beyond inducing an epistemological shift. I examine and confront settlers’ habitual tendencies to consider how they can shift their bodily habits and why they might want to take up the task of decolonization. I conclude with an initial framework for bringing settlers to the difficult work of confronting the legacy of colonialism and forging respectful treaty relations with Canada’s Indigenous sovereign partners.

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