A Band of Settlers
Original title: Bande de colons
The Québécois is indeed a “settler,” in the colonial sense of the term, and not “colonized,” as he has long been led to believe. At least that is what Alain Deneault asserts in A Band of Settlers, an essay as enlightening as it is entertaining, which re-establishes a part of our national narrative. — La Presse+
“We don’t dare to use the term ‘settler,’ because it is not a glorious term,” Alain Deneault observes in an interview. “We feel bad about being one, because we are basically what we would have called collaborators in another era. We collaborate with powers without really shaping what the powerful are creating. We are at the service of the powerful in an enterprise of spoliation of the weaker than ourselves, the colonized.” But “by trying to avoid facing this reality, we are unable to look at reality itself. We have constructed an identity for ourselves that is out of step with our own historical reality.” — Le Devoir
Alain Deneault publishes a hard-hitting essay that offers a reflection on Canadian history from a postcolonial perspective. The philosopher wants to go beyond the national myth to help us better understand ourselves, without nostalgia or other artifices. — Radio-Canada
The settler, a middle figure who is neither in the unbearable position of the colonized nor in the indefensible position of the colonizer, is generally dismissed as an extra in the colonial narrative. Complementing Albert Memmi’s diptych, Alain Deneault reveals here the useful, even indispensable, idiot of the appropriation of territory, a figure that exists only in absolute solidarity with the class that dominates it, but whose political and economic powerlessness allows him to identify, when appropriate, with the colonized.
The setting in which Alain Deneault portrays this figure: Canada. Caught between a colonial past that it wishes to forget and a republican expansion that is constantly postponed, this land that we call “country” excels only in the mediocrity of its extreme-central policies, but it gives to political theory an important object: the condition of the settler, which has been that of the majority of its population and which remains so in a thousand unspoken ways.
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