djangoSOCIAL TEXT, 2015
The Settler Unchained: Constituent Power and Settler Violence 


This article argues that the phrase “monopoly of violence,” which circulates in so many contemporary academic critiques of the liberal state, is not adequate to describe the nature of violence deployed by settler colonial societies against indigenous and racialized bodies. Settler colonialism depends on a mode of popular sovereignty that serves primarily as a diffusion of the necropolitical power of the colonizing polity rather than as a check on the tyranny of the state. Through a consideration of an assemblage of unlikely contemporary objects—Glenn Beck’s 2013 keynote address to the National Rifle Association, Antonio Negri’s monograph Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State, and Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained—it explores how European and Euro-American imaginings of constituent power can serve to reinforce settler colonial political traditions rather than offer an alternative.  READ MORE

exilesTRANSFERS: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, 2015
Indigenous Mobility and Settler State Transfer: The Exiles in Historical Context (with Ho’esta Mo’e’hahne)


(coming soon)





RedState Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson makes comments to attendees at the 2014 Red State Gathering, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)


SALON, 2015
OPINION: Vigilantism, “Fox & Friends”-style: Erick Erickson, Donald Trump and our new gun-nut terror

The familiar script rehashed by commentators following a mass shooting carried out by a “mentally unstable” (read: white) perpetrator is focused on the inefficiencies and dangers of government. “Good guys with guns” are presented as the force that will save us from the U.S. government’s inability to protect its own citizens during such events, but also from the U.S. government’s capability of turning against its own people. As soon as the name Syed Farook was uttered on police scanners following the tragedy that unfolded in San Bernardino, this script changed. READ MORE

American_Sniper_posterSALON, 2015
OPINION: “American Sniper” is not a war movie: It’s a classic revisionist western, and one of Eastwood’s finest

Like all revisionist westerns, the film is actually a subtle critique on frontier justice and hypermasculinity.

Like so many westerns, “American Sniper” revolves around the tensions between a hypermasculine hero, who only feels at home on the frontier of “civilization and savagery,” and a heroine who embodies domesticity.  Like so many westerns, it has been defended and attacked on the basis of the authenticity (or lack thereof) of its representations of a distant “frontier.” READ MORE

frederick jackson turner

Introduction: The Significance of The Frontier in An Age of Transnational History  (with Erik Altenbernd)


The concept of the frontier has been central to many recent studies of settler colonialism. In Patrick Wolfe’s work, the frontier constitutes the “primal” settler/indigenous binary that structures and belies the ostensible commitment of settler societies to multicultural pluralism. While Wolfe thus calls attention to the role the “frontier binary” plays in the “logic of elimination,” he has also criticized the frontier as a representational trope that works to memorialize and whitewash settler invasion. In contemporary historiographic debates in the fields of western and borderlands history within the USA, the concept of the frontier has fared much differently. For US scholars, the very word frontier is irrevocably linked to the legacy of historian Frederick Jackson Turner (1861–1932), who, in his 1893 essay “The Significance of The Frontier in American History,” cast the frontier as both a moving line of settlement and the well-spring of American individualism and democracy. Today, US scholars reject Turner’s “frontier thesis” as inherently ethnocentric and nationalistic and have largely backed away from the idea that the frontier is the locus of US history and culture. This introductory essay puts the critiques of Turnerian historiography articulated by scholars of the US West and southwestern borderlands into conversation with the rather Turnerian concept of the frontier that informs many analyses in settler colonial studies. Reviewing the work of a broad range of scholars who have offered various alternatives to Turner’s narrative of settler expansion, we argue  at a moment when settler colonial studies is poised to make a valuable intervention into the study of settler/indigenous contact and conflict in the USA  that recent historiographic debates in western and borderlands history have much to offer the growing field of settler colonial studies. READ MORE

rhizomatic west

Settler Sovereignty and The Rhizomatic West, or The Significance of The Frontier in Postwestern Studies


Contemporary “postwestern” literary scholarship has largely turned away from frontier historiography toward a “critical regionalist” approach in its efforts to move western literary studies away from familiar national paradigms. As western studies has moved away from what historian Kerwin Klein calls “big frontier tales,” frontier historiography has made a forceful reemergence in contemporary transnational settler colonial studies.This essay seeks to put the “big frontier tales” of settler colonial studies into conversation with postwestern studies through a reading of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s conception of “the rhizomatic West” in A Thousand Plateaus, a text that has been especially influential in postwestern studies and American studies writ large. In addition to exploring Deleuze and Guattari’s Beat Generation and Myth and Symbol School sources, this essay glosses critiques of Deleuze and Guattari by Chickasaw scholar Jodi Byrd and British-Israeli theorist Eyal Weizman, both of whom relate Deleuzian rhizomatics to the ideological and spatial forms of settler colonial expansion.Having outlined a critique of “the rhizomatic West” from this perspective, it offers a brief reading of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road through the lens of settler colonial theory in order to argue that an engagement with frontier historiography should inform our understanding of contemporary understandings of “westness.” READ MORE



A Terrible Beauty: Settler Sovereignty and The State of Exception in Home Box Office’s Deadwood (with Erik Altenbernd)


The Western has long been understood as a mythic genre that utilizes historical representation in service of presentist allegories that address the sovereignty of the settler nation-state. While many have lauded the Home Box Office program Deadwood for presenting a more realistic – and thus less generic – vision of US territorial expansion, this article argues that Deadwood rather effectively embraces the Western genre’s tendency to refract frontier history into a usable past. We contend that Deadwood amplifies the anxieties expressed in Cold War Westerns about the relationship between extralegal violence and the liberal nation-state by representing the sovereign order of the Deadwood isopolity as authoritarian rather than democratic. In a reading that addresses both Deadwood‘s revisionist visual aesthetics and its narrative representations of settler violence, we argue that the series, like many Westerns before it, neglects the representation of the violence of settler colonial invasion in favor of representing violence within the settler isopolity in order to allegorize the extralegal modes of violence utilized by the USA during the early phases of the War on Terror. By interpolating frontier violence within the familiar tradition of the Western genre, Deadwood bridges the gap between nineteenth- and twenty-first-century ideologies of American imperialism by reproducing the trope of ‘the vanishing Indian’ and dramatizing the violence that structures the mythology of settler independence and nationhood in the American West. READ MORE



The Last Western: Deadwood and The End of American Empire, Ed. Jennifer Greiman and Paul Stasi, 2012 
A Terrible Beauty: Deadwood, Settler Colonial Violence, and the Post 9/11 State of Exception (with Erik Altenbernd) 


Perhaps the most sophisticated and complex of shows in HBO’s recent history, Deadwood has surprisingly little coverage in our current scholarship. Grounding contemporary anxieties about race and class, domesticity and American exceptionalism in its nineteenth-century setting, Deadwood revises our understanding of a formative period for the American nation through a re-examination of one of the main genres through which this national story has been transmitted: the Western.

What emerges from this collection is the impressive range of Deadwood’s often contradictory engagement with both nineteenth and twenty-first century America.  READ MORE