Settler colonial studies is comparative: Saree Makdisi, ‘Elimination as a Structure: Tracing and Racing Zionism with Patrick Wolfe’, American Quarterly, 69, 2, 2017, pp. 277-284

02Jul17

Excerpt: One of the great virtues of Patrick Wolfe’s Traces of History is that it locates different settler colonial situations in a comparative framework, thereby allowing us to see both how each situation relates to or draws on the others—but also what renders each distinctive in its own right. The Zionist project in Palestine stands out in this comparative framework, although it has clear relations to other settler colonial endeavors (such as those in Australia and the Americas, also discussed at length in his book). As Wolfe shows, no other settler colonial campaign was so meticulously planned and thought through; none so premeditated; none so wrapped up in so many ideological sleights of hand, so many layers of psychosocial denial and contradiction; none so fraught with anxiety and guilt. And none continues in such an unreconstructed way up to the present. Only in Palestine could one today walk down the street with a yellowing copy of Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth and without any modification apply that 1961 classic to what one sees before one’s eyes in 2017: “The settlers’ town is a strongly built town, all made of stone and steel. It is a brightly lit town; the streets are covered with asphalt, and the garbage cans swallow all the leavings, unseen, unknown and hardly thought about. … The native town is a crouching village, a town on its knees, a town wallowing in the mire. It is a town of niggers and dirty Arabs.”



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