Abstract: Why did the lands east of the Urals–long associated by Russians with the hard labor of convicts, fearsome nomads, and an unbearable climate–attract so many Russian peasant settlers at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? Historians usually cite a combination of push-pull factors. They represent migration as a consequence of stagnation in the agrarian economy (push) and state policies promoting migration (pull), rather than interpreting migration as a dynamic element that contributed to these factors. These explanations therefore suffer from being tautological. They are at best incomplete and at worst distort the culture and agency of the migrants themselves. In seeking to comprehend the motivations of the millions of peasants who migrated to Siberia, we confront, much like contemporary observers, an epistemological question: how to know for sure what millions of mostly illiterate people were thinking when, after all, their subaltern position encouraged them to obfuscate, prevaricate, and produce “hidden transcripts?” In this article I argue that “settlement fever” (pereselencheskaia goriachka), a metaphor employed by A. A. Kaufman, Imperial Russia’s leading expert on peasant migration to Siberia, best expresses the diffusion of knowledge about and enthusiasm for resettlement to that part of the empire. In supporting this argument, I draw on the research and insights of Jose Moya concerning analogous “fevers” that impelled more or less simultaneous trans-Atlantic migrations. I then analyze the Siberian settlement fever’s epistolary and other microbial elements, and conclude by constructing a fever chart for the early Soviet years. This endorsement of Kaufman’s fever metaphor is meant to emphasize an essential element of the migratory process, namely, its communicability. Moya relied on diffusion theory to understand how, like germs, information spread “microsocially,” encompassing ever-widening “sociogeographic spaces.” He discovered that such factors as proximity to ports and socio-economic condition paled in significance compared to kinship, friendship, and other microsocial networks. This, I suggest, is how to explain the predominance of “irregular” (samovol’noe) resettlement: peasants went according to their own timetables and scouts. The state adjusted to them, rather than the other way around. Rumor and letters from relatives already settled also played a role. Migration fever abated during World War I and the revolution when it was overtaken by other fevers–self-demobilization, seizures of landlords’ property, and push-back from rebellious Kazakhs. It returned though in the 1920s, presumably spreading by the same means as before.

Abstract: Over the last ten years, there has been extensive scholarly debate about the nature of settler colonialism and the category ‘settler’. The central problem animating this dissertation is the question of how we understand the position of a settler group like the Doukhobors in Canadian settler colonialism. In 1899 approximately 7,500 members of the Doukhobor religious movement fled oppression in Russia and arrived in Canada with the hope of creating an earthly paradise based on communal economy, mutual aid, pacifism, and an anarchistic theology. Less than a decade after fleeing Tsarist oppression in Russia and settling in the Canadian prairies, the Doukhobors once again came into conflict with a government; this time the conflict revolved around land and compliance with homestead regulations. This moment marked the beginning of more than half a century of provincial and federal government attempts to assimilate recalcitrant factions of the Doukhobor community. A number of tactics including opportunistic land policy, imprisonment, removal and forced education of children, legislation targeting communal property and inducements to integrate into mainstream Canadian society were employed by provincial and federal governments to make the Doukhobors into proper settler subjects. By examining these government attempts to re-make Doukhobor subjectivity in the image of an idealized Anglo-settler identity, this project sheds light on the broad process through which ‘settlers’ are ‘made’ by government action. Drawing on archival iv sources, this dissertation exposes the intersection of Canadian government policy, and colonial ideas, directed towards Indigenous peoples and the Doukhobors from 1899 until 1960. I examine this intersection through the themes of land, education, and colonial knowledge creation in government reports. The dissertation finds that the twin elements of settler colonialism—settlement and dispossession—must be considered as a unified political project. During the period under study there is significant transfer of ideologies and policies between those officials working on the assimilation of settlers and those working toward the dispossession of Indigenous peoples. The dissertation concludes that an important element of the category ‘settler’ is its political nature, and therefore its contingent and contestable nature.

Description: This book begins with a simple question: why do so many Dominicans deny the African components of their DNA, culture, and history?

Seeking answers, Milagros Ricourt uncovers a complex and often contradictory Dominican racial imaginary. Observing how Dominicans have traditionally identified in opposition to their neighbors on the island of Hispaniola—Haitians of African descent—she finds that the Dominican Republic’s social elite has long propagated a national creation myth that conceives of the Dominican as a perfect hybrid of native islanders and Spanish settlers. Yet as she pores through rare historical documents, interviews contemporary Dominicans, and recalls her own childhood memories of life on the island, Ricourt encounters persistent challenges to this myth. Through fieldwork at the Dominican-Haitian border, she gives a firsthand look at how Dominicans are resisting the official account of their national identity and instead embracing the African influence that has always been part of their cultural heritage. 

Building on the work of theorists ranging from Edward Said to Édouard Glissant, this book expands our understanding of how national and racial imaginaries develop, why they persist, and how they might be subverted. As it confronts Hispaniola’s dark legacies of slavery and colonial oppression, The Dominican Racial Imaginary also delivers an inspiring message on how multicultural communities might cooperate to disrupt the enduring power of white supremacy.

Excerpt: In July 2014 the Center for American Progress released a study titled Missing the Point: The Real Impact of Mascots and Team Names on American Indian and Alaska Native Youth. Written by Erik Stegman and Victoria Phillips, this study further substantiated that the use of Indian team names and mascots has a clear negative social and psychological impact on Indigenous people, especially young people (Stegman and Phillips 2014; Fryberg et al. 2008). To introduce and publicize the report, the Center invited guest speakers and a panel to address the topic. The keynote speaker was Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), who in discussing the controversy over the Washington, D.C., football team’s name noted that i a derogatory word for people who are Jewish, African American, or Chinese was proposed as a sports team name, it “wouldn’t be allowed, no one would stand or it, but for some reason, the term ‘Redskin’ gets a free pass” (Center for American Progress 2014). Rep. McCollum is firmly on the side of those seeking to end the use of these names and mascots for sports teams at the high school, college, and professional levels in the United States. At the same time, her “for some reason” statement reveals an underlying confusion about why this is even an issue at all, and why there has not been comprehensive indignation and swift action to end this practice. McCollum is not alone in her confusion, as it is articulated often by those who oppose such names and mascots. The source of this confusion is the inability to grasp the manner in which settler-colonialism is both ubiquitous and, for most people, relatively invisible in U.S. political and cultural life. The history and present of settler-colonial violence toward and dispossession and appropriation of Indigenous people’s bodies, territory, and identity is ever present in the sports names and mascots issue. However, what most political actors and observers see and discuss in this debate is not settler-colonialism but rather race and racism. To deem as racist names such as the “Redskins” is not so much wrong as it is analytically incomplete and thus politically off the mark for grasping why these names and mascots get a “free pass”—why they were created in the first place, persist, and are so vehemently defended today by those who seek to maintain the status quo.

The present debate and politics regarding Indian sports names and mascots, such as with the case of the Washington football team’s name, provides an excellent opportunity to politicize and center settler-colonialism as a historical and contemporary structuring force of the United States. The sports names and mascot issue is a persistent and public practice of U.S. settler-colonial rule. It is a mnemonic device that disavows the dispossession of Indigenous territory and the violent and aggressive assimilatory practices against Indigenous peoples. Paying attention to the political functioning of memory matters here because understanding and intervening in this and other issues requires more than just getting the historical facts straight. Facts matter, but an awareness of facts will not do enough politically to generate change, and this is where we need to see and directly engage with collective memory, specifically settler memory. Settler memory refers to the mnemonics—that is, the functions, practices, and products of memory—of colonialist dispossession, violence, appropriation, and settlement that shape settler subjectivity and governmentality in liberal colonial contexts such as the United States. Settler mnemonics include not only places and teams named after Indigenous peoples, but also calendric commemorations such as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, military nomenclature such as the Apache helicopter, and many other examples. These mnemonics are so ubiquitous that they are, at once, present and absent in American collective memory.

Excerpt: The decade following 9/11 saw a wave of state and federal legislative efforts to secure borders and identify terrorists. As evidenced perhaps most famously by the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the passage of the Patriot Act, the “era of terror” ushered in a new relationship between national security, mobility, and surveillance that functioned in tandem with decreased regulation and transparency of national security efforts. Panic about the falling numbers of jobs and resources during the economic recession that followed the 2008 housing market crash, along with heightened militarization, catalyzed a reactionary swing to the far right that assigned significant blame for these national “crises” onto the figure of the “foreigner” as the cause of this terror. As legal scholar Leti Volpp has shown in her work on post-9/11 hate crimes and racial profiling, the terrorist and the immigrant become figures of suspicion which threaten U.S. surveillance of bodies and capital that travel within its parameters unmonitored. Moreover, they become conflated—almost one and the same. In the post-9/11 United States, immigration has produced a correlative relationship between the “illegal immigrant” (often read as Spanish-speaking) and the “foreign terrorist” (often read as a Muslim extremist)—both seen as threats to the state’s militarized autonomy and economy, and both aligned in racially and historically loaded ways.

In the mid-2000s, official English legislation (also known as the “English-only movement”) gained short-term popularity as a way for states to assert a political stance on autonomy, foreign affairs, and multiculturalism under the valence of patriotism. Thus English became a weapon in the global war on terror, and non-English-speaking individuals became suspect, made synonymous with the figure of the threatening outsider, the immigrant other. Arizona’s official English debates received the lion’s share of media attention, but Idaho, Kansas, and Oklahoma followed suit by passing legislation of their own. In this essay I argue that the Oklahoma Official Language Implementation Act, authorizing an amendment to the state constitution, marked a key rhetorical shift in Indigenous–settler relations. By including an exception for Native language use in the amendment, Native nations are understood as “affirmative exclusions” (or positive exceptions) to the legislation, in contrast to the perceived foreign “other” targeted under the changes. I begin by outlining the stakes of these changes and presenting an analysis of the exception made for Indigenous languages in the amendment. I then provide historical context for current Indigenous–settler relations in Oklahoma. After situating the amendment in a longer regional history, I move into an analysis of the legislative debates and their contemporaneous press coverage, as well as a discussion of the logics of neoliberal multiculturalism that undergirded the debates. I end with considerations of the larger impact official English may have both in Oklahoma and beyond its borders.

The amendment received overwhelming support in a 2010 general vote, but while under discussion in both houses of the legislature in 2009 it garnered outspoken criticism from some key constituents. English symbolically registered national and state pride for many Oklahomans, but compulsory language use also triggered memories of the state’s long colonial history. As State Representative Mike Brown (D) emphatically insisted in 2009 legislative debates, official English “reek[ed] of forced assimilation.” The legislation echoed language debates of a prior era in which Native peoples, particularly children, as a method of assimilation and colonial acculturation were forcibly required to stop speaking their Indigenous languages and only speak English; history threatened to repeat itself (yet again) in Oklahoma. But legislators who supported the bill insisted that it was not about repeating the sins of Oklahoma’s colonial past. Rather, they assured, it was about protecting current citizens from the threat of a cultural and economic terror ushered in by an imagined inundation of immigrants.

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