Life on the Frontier: The Environmental Anthropology of Settler Colonialism

Lithography of a painting by A. Salm.
Een Suikerfabriek. Lithograph of a painting by Abraham Salm, 1865-1872. Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.
What kinds of nature are forged through settler colonialism? Settler colonists do not merely conquer people and territory—they seek to transplant and redefine. The desires, fears, messianism, violence, masculinity, sexuality, and racism that characterize settler colonialism shape how colonists imagine and interact with the environments and people they encounter—generating contradictions that colonizers and the colonized are forced to contend with. Settlers introduce and remove plants and animals for agricultural production or biological control, while nostalgically transforming their new environments to mimic their homeland. Settler colonialisms fashion borderlands through their concept of “the frontier,” generating novel identity categories that are negotiated, rejected, or reconfigured by colonized people and their descendants. These borderlands and the areas “beyond” them can manifest as spaces of abjection and exception—open to genocide and ecocide—but also of capitalist or imperial fantasy.

This thematic series explores what anthropological approaches can contribute to our understanding of the environment in contexts of settler colonialism, with commentaries by Zoe Todd and Clint Carroll.

Series Posts:

Part I
Concrete and Livability in Occupied Palestine
by Kali Rubaii
Making Homeland (Haciendo Patria): Agrarian Change, Nationhood and Inter-Ethnic Relations at the Frontier of Colonial Expansion in Chile
by Piergiorgio Di Giminiani
Of Territorialization and Transplantation: The Contradictions of a Settler Garden in South Africa
by Derick Fay
Harvesting Ruins: The Im/Permanance of Work Camps and Reclaiming Colonized Landscapes in the Northern Alberta Oil Sands
by Janelle Marie Baker
Settler Colonialism and Weed Ecology
by Timothy Neale
The Environmental Anthropology of Settler Colonialism, Part I
by Zoe Todd
Part II
The Limits of Environmentalism at Earth’s End: Reindeer Eradication and the Heritage of Hunting in the Sub-Antarctic
by James J. A. Blair
Living with the Environmental and Social Legacy of U.S. Land Policy in the American West
by Julie Brugger
Building Out the Rat: Animal Intimacies and Prophylactic Settlement in 1920s South Africa
by Branwyn Polykett
Reclaiming Nature? Indigenous Homeland and Oil Sands Territory
by Tara Joly
Wildlife Conservation and Settler Colonialism in the North American West
by Paul Burow
The Environmental Anthropology of Settler Colonialism, Part II
by Clint Carroll

Read the original call for posts here.