Liberal settler colonialism: Éléna Choquette, ‘Appropriating Indigenous lands: the liberal founding of Manitoba’, Settler Colonial Studies, 2020


Abstract: This article examines the language and strategies of Canadian land expansion through the founding of Manitoba in 1870. It analyses the discourse of key colonial authorities, which reveal that Canada mobilises the ideals of liberalism to promote the colonial policy of appropriating Indigenous lands. Because liberalism endures as the dominant paradigm that both structure contemporary politics and contemporary thinking about politics in the West, it is critical to clarify the connection between liberalism and the wrongs of land appropriation. Examining the role of liberal ideas in the founding of Manitoba also helps defuse the capacity of liberalism to produce dispossession, especially of Indigenous Peoples. In addition to exposing the ideas that supported the production of Canadian sovereignty, this article also analyses the various tactics Canada deployed to secure that sovereignty amidst Indigenous resistance. If Canadian officials first opted to absorb Indigenous lands through the ‘gentle’ means of administration, declaration and negotiation, they resorted to military forces when Indigenous Peoples frustrated Canadian claims to sovereignty. By bringing into focus the shifting tactics that Canadian state officials employed to annex Indigenous lands, the founding of Manitoba enriches our understanding of settler colonial statecraft and of the distinctive means of settler state expansion.

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