Responsible settlers? Avril Bell, Rose Yukich, Billie Lythberg, Christine Woods, ‘Enacting settler responsibilities towards decolonisation’, Ethnicities, 2021


Abstract: This special issue showcases research exploring the work of settler individuals and groups in support of projects of decolonisation in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Israel. The papers gathered here were developed from presentations at an international symposium held in Auckland, New Zealand and online in February 2021. As symposium organisers and editors of this collection, we speak and write as settler subjects ourselves, and this collection is situated within the field of Settler Colonial Studies (SCS). This editorial provides an opening framing of the field into which these papers speak, and a survey of some of the key themes within the wider literature. We aim firstly to locate this work within the wider field of scholarship and activism on decolonisation and decoloniality, delimiting the particular focus of decolonisation within settler-dominated contexts. We then discuss the critiques that have been mounted against SCS and some important defences of the field. We argue that while settler colonialism persists, work in SCS has a contribution to make – in highlighting and critiquing settler logics and in identifying changes that it is within the power of settler peoples themselves to make as a contribution towards Indigenous-led decolonisation. Further, we argue that decolonising settler societies must involve settlers learning to be ‘in relation’ with Indigenous worlds and people outside of deeply habituated logics and practices of domination. The papers gathered here provide examples of settler subjects at various points on the path of decolonising themselves and learning the work of ‘being in relation’.

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