The Settler

Recordings for this Entry

Required Secondary Reading for UMN-TC

David Higgins, "Bizarro Victimhood"

According to Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang (2012), the term “decolonization” is not a metaphor. As they argue, this term’s literal force, the repatriation of lands to Indigenous peoples, is undermined when the meaning of decolonization is transferred to (for instance) the intentional rearrangement of curricula and syllabi (19). When it signifies the guilty land-occupying settler’s conscientious adoption and circulation of Indigenous knowledges, the metaphor of decolonization makes decolonization indistinguishable from colonization itself. Of course, the obverse implication of Tuck and Yang’s critique is also true: metaphor iscommensurate with colonization (Garba and Sorentino). As the allegedly more foundational form of metaphor that displaces and erases its earlier version, catachresis too exemplifies how rhetoric can unmake its own history. Made rhetorical, decolonization gives away the settler’s secret that domination proceeds as a conquest of a foundational terminology.

Additional Resources

  • The UnTextbook, "The Settler Situation"
  • Carolyn Marvin and David W Ingle, Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag
  • Tuck, Eve and K. Wayne Yang. 2012. “Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1(1):1–40.
  • Garba, Tapji, and Sara‐Maria Sorentino. 2020. “Slavery Is a Metaphor: A Critical Commentary on Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang’s ‘Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor’.” Antipode52(3):764–82.