Abstract: What can the analytical framework of settler colonialism contribute to sociological theorizing, research, and overall understanding of the social world? This essay argues that settler colonialism, a distinct social formation with common statuses and predictable dynamics, has much to offer towards new sociological insight regarding the United States. In expanding the scholarly models of colonialism applied to the United States, settler colonial analysis suggests that an underlying logic of Indigenous elimination and settler replacement informs a diverse set of contemporary outcomes and structures. It provides a coherent and overarching framework for explaining such political phenomena as the vigorous presence of “extraconstitutional” tribal governments within the United States, recurrent Native-white conflicts, and the distinctive nature of contemporary Indigenous social and political agency. The essay also analyzes how settler supersession and the desire for Indigenous lands shapes the intensive state management of Indigenous identity, the differing racialization of African Americans and American Indians, and the contrasts between Indigenous and black sociopolitical agendas. Insights from a reconceptualization of the US as a settler colonial society are not limited to a focus on politics, American Indians, race, or the past. The article suggests additional directions for new research that have the potential to reveal contemporary social forces operating at multiple levels and in numerous fields of social action. Finally, the essay offers simple suggestions to sociologists who wish to incorporate settler colonialism in their research and teaching within the discipline or to contribute to interdisciplinary scholarship about American settler colonialism.

Abstract: Theatre and Performance Studies have studied the ways in which theatre and performance act as auxiliaries of hegemonic state power at least since Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed explored the ways in which classical Greek dramaturgy coerced its audiences into pro-state behavior. Meanwhile, the theatre industry often makes interventions into the White racial hegemony that dominates the United States while in some ways reinstating the very dramaturgies that serve to oppress Indigenous Peoples, Black People, and other People of Color (Holledge & Tompkins, McDonnell). Professional theatre would be well served by looking to the critiques of scholars like Boal as well as Diana Taylor, Jisha Menon, and Rustom Bharucha. These scholars critique theatre outside the United States and since, as Laura Pulido observes, race is experienced locally, a regional analysis of theatre as an auxiliary of White hegemonic state power in the United States is needed. My dissertation focuses on the region directly affected by the California Gold Rush, which includes all of California as well as southwestern Oregon, to demonstrate how theatre participated and continues to participate in the establishment of power that oppresses Blacks, Indigenous Peoples and People of Color. I do so by using eventful historical-sociology (Sewell) to describe the Gold Rush as an event that restructured race in the Gold Rush region, and Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to compare indicators of white hegemony in Gold Rush plays with plays produced in the same region in 2019. I conclude by offering policy recommendations which range from the industry-specific like emphasizing dramaturgies that highlight non-white histories and increasing access for non-white labor in professional theatre to broader reaching interventions concerning minority language rights for local tribal languages and Spanish.

Description: Five hundred years. A vast geography. And an unfinished project to remake the world to match the desires of settler colonizers. How have settlers used violence and narrative to transform Turtle Island into what is currently called North America? What does that say about our social systems, and what happens next? Deploying analytical tools from diverse disciplines, and drawing on sources ranging from archives to pop culture and personal experience, Making and Breaking Settler Space addresses pressing questions left by the complex and obscured process of colonization. Adam Barker articulates a dynamic analytical model to explain how settler spaces have developed and continue to evolve. He traces the trajectory of settler colonialism, drawing out details of its operation from the imperial colonization of Turtle Island in the 1500s to contemporary contexts that include problematic activist practices by would-be settler allies. Making and Breaking Settler Space proposes an innovative, unified spatial theory of settler colonization in Canada and the United States. In the process, it uncovers systemic weaknesses that can inform the decolonization efforts of resurgent Indigenous nations and settler activists alike, and argues for relationships founded on solidarity and shared acknowledgment that the settler project is a failed one. This thought-provoking work will be of great use not only to scholars and students of settler colonialism but also to activists and political commentators concerned with Indigenous people’s future beyond the settler colonial society.