I’ll be visiting the “landed estate” of the Anglo-Irish (read English) Mahon family today. My great, etc. grandfather was 6 months old when the Mahon patriarch, my families landlord, was assassinated crossing the bridge just down the road from their wee cottage. This didn’t stop the evictions of natives from their land during a time that our food was being exported at a rate that half of our entire counties population died of malnutrition. Amazingly, my ancestor survived and found a boat to New York City as soon as he became an adult. Land reform and revolution were still a generation away. This is the story of why I am a settler where I was born, and why standing here today in Béal Átha na mBuillí (so called Strokestown) I am for the first time in my life not a settler. But what does that mean? I don’t know. But colonialism is alive and well….
By Laura Hurwitz & Shawn Bourque, Unsettling Klamath River Coyuntura
Colonialism and Settler Colonialism
Colonialism is a system that occupies and usurps labor/land/resources from one group of people for the benefit of another. Colonialism is derived from the Latin word Colonia. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in the Roman Empire, “Colonia” was a “ farm,” “landed estate,” or “settlement” granted to Roman soldiers in hostile or newly conquered territories.
There are different types of colonial projects. Exploitation colonialism involves a small amount of colonists whose main objective is to profit from the colonies resources and exploit Indigenous labor, usual exported to the metropole or “mother city” (think of the British in India). Plantation colonies utilize a mix of exploitation and settler colonialism in different regions and areas. In settler colonialism land, not labor, is key. In this system, Indigenous Peoples are literally replaced by settlers. As Patrick Wolfe puts…
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