Political Geographical Perspectives on Settler Colonialism

Stepha Velednitsky, Sara Salazar Hughes, Rhys Machold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the centrality of land, territory, and sovereignty to settler colonial formations, it is unsurprising that geographers and other scholars working on such topics are increasingly finding settler colonial studies fruitful in their research agendas. However, work on settler polities in political geography has historically been marked by the  present absence  of this framework, which has been consequential in terms of circumscribing the kinds of political analysis that geographers can offer. It also limits the nature, depth, and scope of radical critique of violent domination by skirting certain questions about the core drivers of dispossession and responsibility for them. This article examines political geographical engagement (or lack thereof) across each of four themes: population management/governance, territory/sovereignty, consciousness, and narrative, paying particular attention to works which challenge the present absence of settler colonial theory in political geography. We argue that analyzing settler colonial formations as such is essential to conceptualizing their workings and linkages or disjunctures with other forms of empire. Yet this focus also has broader political stakes related to geography's complicity with racialized state power, violence, and empire, as well as and efforts to decolonize the discipline.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalGeography Compass
StatePublished - Mar 3 2020


  • biopolitics
  • consciousness
  • decolonizing geography
  • narrative
  • political geography
  • present absence
  • settler colonialism
  • territory


  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Geography
  • Human Geography
  • Political Science

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