Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Schaffer, Scott


What configuration of strategies and discourses enable the white male and settler body politic to render itself as simultaneously wounded and invulnerable? I contextualize this question by reading the discursive continuities between Euro-America’s War on Terror post-9/11 and Algeria’s War for Independence. By interrogating political-philosophical responses to September 11, 2001 beside American rhetoric of a wounded nation, I argue that white nationalism, as a mode of settler colonialism, appropriates the discourses of political wounding to imagine and legitimize a narrative of white hurt and white victimhood; in effect, reproducing and hardening the borders of the nation-state. Additionally, by turning to Fanon and Mbembe, I argue that settler colonialism produces what I term as “scenes of captivity,” where the settler nation-state detains, incarcerates, and interrogates brown, Indigenous, and black bodies both for producing knowledge about those bodies and protecting and securitizing the nation-state. Understanding the ways in which settler colonialism’s logics of detention, captivity, and interrogation, both then and now, provides insights into how we might begin dismantling detention centres.