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Anti-Colonial Theory and Decolonial Praxis

Edited By George J. Sefa Dei and Meredith Lordan

Are we living in a post-colonial world? A colonial one? An anti-colonial one? Lifting the veil from language and politics, Anti-Colonial Theory and Decolonial Praxis uses case studies from around the world to explore and untangle these concepts as they relate to education. The anti-colonial prism is very much connected to the postcolonial lens but these frameworks are not the same. Building upon earlier works, this book takes up the subject of anti-colonial praxis and its specific implications—the larger questions of schooling and education in global and, particularly, Diasporic contexts. The goal is to re-theorize the anti-colonial for the decolonial projects of transforming schooling and education in a broadly defined way. Beyond explaining these ideas, this book demonstrates ways communities are engaging in praxis as a form of anti-colonial change in a wide range of locations. Incorporating case studies from various locations and Diasporic communities—including Somalia, Canada, Nigeria, Jamaica, and St. Vincent—and  provocative theoretical analyses, the book brings varied experiences of anti-colonial praxis to the reader in timely, culturally diverse, and engaging ways. This book could be used in upper undergraduate and graduate level courses in anthropology, Diaspora studies, education, environmental studies, ethnic studies, gender studies, law, multiculturalism studies, politics, social work, and sociology.
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Chapter Ten: Objects of Settlement: Excavating Colonial Narratives

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CHAPTER TEN

Objects OF Settlement

Excavating Colonial Narratives

MISCHA BERLIN1



Archaeological excavation has played a central role in the construction of historical narratives across various settler-colonial contexts. The ‘neutral’ and sanitized scientific analyses of historical artifacts produce narratives of dominance that enact and enable colonial dispossession. Anibal Quijano (2007) and Audra Simpson (2007) provide insight into the ways in which ‘neutral language’ is constitutive of coloniality. Coloniality, in turn, works to conceal violence by disavowing its own interest in upholding scientific discourse. This chapter looks at the ways in which archaeology and anthropology are complicit in—and constitutive of—settler-colonial narratives that obscure the presence and vitality of Indigenous communities.

Looking at archaeology in Palestine and Ontario will shed light on how scientific discourses serve colonial interests in disparate contexts. The chapter takes up the work of Nadia Abu El-Haj (2001), who analyzes the ways archaeology serves settler-colonial narratives in Palestine, looking at how Jewish histories are upheld within a teleology that is founded on the erasure of Palestinian Indigeneity. In Ontario, archaeology serves to locate Indigenous ‘culture’ and peoples within a past that is, as Sherene Razack (2012, p. 908) has argued, “intrinsically vulnerable.” Understanding how coloniality dialectically informs archaeological discourses, this discussion looks at the politics of repatriation of Indigenous artifacts that have surfaced over the past two and a half decades. In Canada, the reconciliatory politics of recognition have recently come to...

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