On this 4th of July, we offer a reading list that explores three main topics: Settler Colonialism, Colonialism, and U.S. Imperialism.
It’s been 168 years since abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave one of his most famous speeches, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?,” before the Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society of Rochester, N.Y., and many of his most urgent questions remain unresolved. This Fourth of July we, like many of you, are thinking about what it means to be a part of this country at this time in history; a time we hope will prove to be a great unmasking and turning point, where the lies the United States has told about itself can no longer be told so easily by so many for so long. At this moment, when COVID-19 and the uprisings for racial justice and against police and state violence are simultaneously laying so many of the faulty structures of American life bare for even the most unwilling to believe, we hope that readers and activists will choose to learn the history and the stories that so many of us were not formally taught, but have been forced to carry in our bones, our cells, our hearts, our DNA, like a secret that people in power threaten us against telling.
If there is ever to be a reckoning of the harms the U.S. has committed on this land and throughout the world, it should be now. In fact, reckoning with those harms is the only way to make all of us free. We cannot seek to dismantle white supremacy domestically without understanding the true histories of how this land was stolen and also seek to know the stories of people outside of the United States whose histories and destinies continue to be shaped by U.S. colonial and imperial policies and projects. The U.S. was founded by a practice of what is now known as "Settler Colonialism." White people came to this land and killed or removed the Native people from their home lands and sought to completely eradicate their surviving culture. White people enslaved people from the continent of Africa and used their bodies and their unpaid labor to build a nation while also seeking to eradicate their surviving culture. Throughout the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries the U.S. has waged official and covert wars of colonization and territory expansion as well as economic imperialism throughout the globe--from Mexico to Puerto Rico to the Philippines to Hawaii to Alaska, American Samoa, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti, The Dominican Republic, The Virgin Islands, Guam, The Northern Mariana Islands, South Korea, Cuba, Grenada, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Congo, Palestine, Somalia,Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, and likely more that we are forgetting or which are not yet known to our history books. Some of these wars have been fought more transparently in the name of U.S. expansion and prosperity, many more have been cloaked in the false flag of humanitarianism, the fight against Communism, the fight against terrorism. Our policies continue to force human migration throughout the world and separate family members from one another and from their homelands. When people migrate to the U.S. hoping for safety we regularly commit additional physical and emotional harms against them and seek to separate them from "true Americans."
Most of us know some or all of these truths and yet many of us, especially those of us who are white, act as though we don't. Because to act as though we understand our history and our nation's global and domestic policies would necessitate a deep thoughtfulness about what, exactly, it is we are celebrating on Independence Day. As Frederick Douglass wrote to his white audience in 1852, "This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony." We believe that this Fourth of July represents an opportunity for pause and reflection that we have perhaps not ever had collectively. With no fireworks displays or BBQs to attend, with COVID keeping us home and relatively quiet, perhaps we can access the still, silent voice of truth so many of us repress day in and day out when it comes to truth and justice--the Fourth of July should be a day of mourning, not of celebration.
Georges Erasmus, an Aboriginal Tlicho leader from Canada, said, “Where common memory is lacking, where people do not share in the same past, there can be no real community. Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created.” Books are one way to create a common memory; by listening to and learning from the human stories that make up our collective history, we can practice rejecting the lie of American exceptionalism and superiority and acting in ways that align with our desire to dismantle white supremacy wherever it manifests. We offer this list in the spirit of building a common memory so that we might yet build a truly common future.
An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights
Winner: Native American and Indigenous Studies Association's Best Subsequent Book 2017
Honorable Mention: Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award 2017
Across North America, Indigenous acts of resistance have in recent years opposed the removal of federal protections for forests and waterways in Indigenous lands, halted the expansion of tar san
Chronicles how American culture - deeply rooted in white supremacy, slavery and capitalism - finds its origin story in the 17th century European colonization of Africa and North America, exposing the structural origins of American looting
Many people first encounter Hawai'i through the imagination--a postcard picture of hula girls, lu'aus, and plenty of sun, surf, and sea. While Hawai'i is indeed beautiful, Native Hawaiians struggle with the problems brought about by colonialism, military occupation, tourism, food insecurity, high costs of living, and climate change.
C saire's essay stands as an important document in the development of
third world consciousness--a process in which he] played a prominent
A crucial, clear-eyed accounting of Puerto Rico's 122 years as a colony of the US.
This is the story of a nation--the United States--that has conducted more than 160 wars and other military ventures while insisting it loves peace.
The classic work of political, economic, and historical analysis, powerfully introduced by Angela Davis
In this revised and expanded edition of Medicine Stories, Aurora Levins Morales weaves together insights and lessons learned over a lifetime of activism to offer a new theory of social justice.
Adapted from the bestselling grassroots history of the United States, the story of America in the world, told in comics form
A passionately urgent call for all of us to unlearn imperialism and repair the violent world we share, from one of our most compelling political theorists
In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.
First published in 1961, Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth is a masterful and timeless interrogation of race, colonialism, psychological trauma, and revolutionary struggle. In 2020, it found a new readership in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests and the centering of narratives interrogating race by Black writers.
Few modern voices have had as profound an impact on the black identity and critical race theory as Frantz Fanon, and Black Skin, White Masks represents some of his most important work. Fanon's masterwork is now available in a new translation that updates its language for a new generation of readers.
Following the 1948 war and the creation of the state of Israel, Palestinian Arabs comprised just fifteen percent of the population but held a much larger portion of its territory.
Kris Manjapra weaves together the study of colonialism over the past 500 years, across the globe's continents and seas.
Millions of Africans, Asians, and other peoples were the subjects of colonial rule by overseas empires through the mid-twentieth century. By the end of the century, however, nearly all of these peoples had become citizens of independent nation-states. The United Nations grew from 51 member states at its founding in 1945 to 193 today.
Often perceived as unbridgeable, the boundaries that divide humanity from itself--whether national, gender, racial, political, or imperial--are rearticulated through friendship. Elora Halim Chowdhury and Liz Philipose edit a collection of essays that express the different ways women forge hospitality in deference to or defiance of the structures meant to keep them apart.
Exceptional State analyzes the nexus of culture and contemporary manifestations of U.S. imperialism. The contributors, established and emerging cultural studies scholars, define culture broadly to include a range of media, literature, and political discourse. They do not posit September 11, 2001 as the beginning of U.S.
Women across the globe are being dramatically affected by war as currently waged by the USA.
Feminist Geneaologies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures provides a feminist anaylsis of the questions of sexual and gender politics, economic and cultural marginality, and anti-racist and anti-colonial practices both in the "West" and in the "Third World." This collection, edited by Jacqui Alexander and Chan
Recognizing an urgent need for Indigenous liberation strategies, Indigenous intellectuals met to create a book with hands-on suggestions and activities to enable Indigenous communities to decolonize themselves.
For Indigenous Minds Only features Indigenous scholars, writers, and activists who have collaborated for the creation of a sequel to For Indigenous Eyes Only (SAR Press, 2005).
Named one of the ten best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune
A Publishers Weekly best book of 2019 | A 2019 NPR Staff Pick
A pathbreaking history of the United States’ overseas possessions and the true meaning of its empire
Winner of the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2020
Highly commended for PEN Hessell–Tiltman Prize 2020
A haunting and evocative history of British empire, told through one woman’s family story
This collection of works by prominent Latin Americanists explores the social and political dynamics of this important region in transition to a post-neoliberal era. The first part deals with the intensifying regional crisis created by neoliberal policies, showing how regime stability has been broadly undermined, with specific attention given to the cases of Panama and Argentina.
Originally published in Mexico in 1970, Indigenous and Popular Thinking in Am rica is the first book by the Argentine philosopher Rodolfo Kusch (1922-79) to be translated into English.
How rebellious colonies changed British attitudes to empire
Insurgent Empire shows how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom.
"An enthralling story . . . A work of history that reads like a novel." — Christian Science Monitor
“As Hochschild’s brilliant book demonstrates, the great Congo scandal prefigured our own times . . .
Melancholia Africana argues that in the African and Afro-diasporic context, melancholy is rooted in collective experiences such as slavery, colonization, and the post-colony. From these experiences a theme of loss resonates-loss of land, of freedom, of language, of culture, of self, and of ideals born from independence.
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History
A New York Times Notable Book
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Selection
A Providence Journal Best Book of the Year
Winner of the Organization of American Historians Merle Curti Award for Social History
Finalist for the Harriet Tubman Prize
The classic survey of Latin America's social and cultural history, with a new introduction by Isabel Allende
The contributors to Otherwise Worlds investigate the complex relationships between settler colonialism and anti-Blackness to explore the political possibilities that emerge from such inquiries.
M. Jacqui Alexander is one of the most important theorists of transnational feminism working today. Pedagogies of Crossing brings together essays she has written over the past decade, uniting her incisive critiques, which have had such a profound impact on feminist, queer, and critical race theories, with some of her more recent work.
A uniquely important book in the canon of the North American revolutionary left and anticolonial movements, Settlers was first published in the 1980s.
Speaking Face to Face provides an unprecedented, in-depth look at the feminist philosophy and practice of the renowned Argentinian-born scholar-activist Mar a Lugones.
The Jamaican writer and cultural theorist Sylvia Wynter is best known for her diverse writings that pull together insights from theories in history, literature, science, and black studies, to explore race, the legacy of colonialism, and representations of humanness.
A classic and impassioned account of the first revolution in the Third World.
For hundreds of years, the history of the conquest of Mexico and the defeat of the Aztecs has been told in the words of the Spanish victors. Miguel León-Portilla has long been at the forefront of expanding that history to include the voices of indigenous peoples.
Illuminates how the preservation of slavery was a motivating factor for the Revolutionary War
Acclaimed historian Gerald Horne troubles America's settler colonialism's creation myth
The Decolonial Imaginary is a smart, challenging book that disrupts a great deal of what we think we know . . . it will certainly be read seriously in Chicano/a studies. --Women's Review of Books
A landmark history of one hundred years of war waged against the Palestinians from the foremost US historian of the Middle East, told through pivotal events and family history
The renowned literary and cultural critic Edward Said was one of our era’s most provocative and important thinkers. This comprehensive collection of his work, expanded from the earlier Edward Said Reader, now draws from across his entire four-decade career, including his posthumously published books, making it a definitive one-volume source.
"Harsha Walia has played a central role in building some of North America's most innovative, diverse, and effective new movements. That this brilliant organizer and theorist has found time to share her wisdom in this book is a tremendous gift to us all."--Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine
Drawing on interviews with 51 anti-authoritarian organizers to investigates what it means to struggle for "the commons" within a settler colonial context, Unsettling the Commons interrogates a very important debatethat took place within Occupy camps and is taking place in a multitude of movements in North America around what it means to claim "the commons" on stolen land.
The powerful, untold story of the 1950 revolution in Puerto Rico and the long history of U.S. intervention on the island, that the New York Times says "could not be more timely." In 1950, after over fifty years of military occupation and colonial rule, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States.
Western Women and Imperialism] provides fascinating insights into interactions and attitudes between western and non-western women, mainly in the 19th and early 20th centuries.