Neither Settler nor Native

The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities
Author(s):
  • Publication Date: March 2021
  • Dimensions and Pages: 234 x 156mm Extent: 416pp
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-707-6
  • PDF EAN: 978-177614-708-3
  • Rights: Southern Africa
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 420.00

“Brilliant! A deeply learned account of the origins of our modern world. Situating the
beginnings of the nation-state in the settler-colonial practice of creating permanent
minorities, Mamdani illustrates how this damaging political logic continues into our own era,
resulting far too often in today’s extraordinary political violence. Through his own elegant
contrarianism, Mamdani rejects the current focus on human rights as the means to bring
justice to the victims of this colonial and postcolonial bloodshed. Instead, he calls for a new
kind of political imagination, one that will pave the way for a truly decolonized future. Joining
the ranks of Hannah Arendt’s Imperialism, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, and
Edward Said’s Orientalism, this book is destined to become a classic text of postcolonial
studies and political theory.”
— Moustafa Bayoumi, Brooklyn College, City University of New York

“This book compels the reader to rethink the origin and development of the nation-state
and its replication as inseparable from European colonialism. In elegant prose with no
wasted words or jargon, this original and brilliant work argues that the United States created
the template for settler-colonialism, providing the model upon which the South African
apartheid regime and the Israeli state were patterned, a model also used by the Nazi regime
that adopted US race theory and catastrophic ethnic cleansing. The book provides not only
profound historical analysis but also deeply researched descriptions of the current US and
Israeli regimes of settler-colonialism and more.”
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

Making the radical argument that the nation-state was born of colonialism, this book calls us to rethink political violence and reimagine political community beyond majorities and minorities.

In this genealogy of political modernity, Mahmood Mamdani argues that the nation-state and the colonial state created each other. In case after case around the globe—from the New World to South Africa, Israel to Germany to Sudan—the colonial state and the nation-state have been mutually constructed through the politicization of a religious or ethnic majority at the expense of an equally manufactured minority.

The model emerged in North America, where genocide and internment on reservations created both a permanent native underclass and the physical and ideological spaces in which new immigrant identities crystallized as a settler nation. In Europe, this template would be used by the Nazis to address the Jewish Question, and after the fall of the Third Reich, by the Allies to redraw the boundaries of Eastern Europe’s nation-states, cleansing them of their minorities. After Nuremberg the template was used to preserve the idea of the Jews as a separate nation. By establishing Israel through the minoritization of Palestinian Arabs, Zionist settlers followed the North American example. The result has been another cycle of violence.

Neither Settler nor Native offers a vision for arresting this historical process. Mamdani rejects the “criminal” solution attempted at Nuremberg, which held individual perpetrators responsible without questioning Nazism as a political project and thus the violence of the
nation-state itself. Instead, political violence demands political solutions: not criminal justice for perpetrators but a rethinking of the political community for all survivors—victims, perpetrators, bystanders, benefi ciaries—based on common residence and the commitment to build a common future without the permanent political identities of settler and native.

Mamdani points to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa as an unfi nished project, seeking a state without a nation.

Introduction
Chapter 1 The Indian Question in the United States
Chapter 2 Nuremberg: The Failure of Denazification
Chapter 3 Settlers and Natives in Apartheid South Africa
Chapter 4 Sudan: Colonialism, Independence, and Secession
Chapter 5 The Israel / Palestine Question
Chapter 6 Decolonizing the Political Community
Notes
Acknowledgements
Index

Mahmood Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Professor of Anthropology and of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at Columbia University and Director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala. He is the author of Citizen and Subject, When Victims Become Killers, and Good Muslim, Bad Muslim.

“Brilliant! A deeply learned account of the origins of our modern world. Situating the
beginnings of the nation-state in the settler-colonial practice of creating permanent
minorities, Mamdani illustrates how this damaging political logic continues into our own era,
resulting far too often in today’s extraordinary political violence. Through his own elegant
contrarianism, Mamdani rejects the current focus on human rights as the means to bring
justice to the victims of this colonial and postcolonial bloodshed. Instead, he calls for a new
kind of political imagination, one that will pave the way for a truly decolonized future. Joining
the ranks of Hannah Arendt’s Imperialism, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, and
Edward Said’s Orientalism, this book is destined to become a classic text of postcolonial
studies and political theory.”
— Moustafa Bayoumi, Brooklyn College, City University of New York

“This book compels the reader to rethink the origin and development of the nation-state
and its replication as inseparable from European colonialism. In elegant prose with no
wasted words or jargon, this original and brilliant work argues that the United States created
the template for settler-colonialism, providing the model upon which the South African
apartheid regime and the Israeli state were patterned, a model also used by the Nazi regime
that adopted US race theory and catastrophic ethnic cleansing. The book provides not only
profound historical analysis but also deeply researched descriptions of the current US and
Israeli regimes of settler-colonialism and more.”
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

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