Patrick Wolfe

Patrick Wolfe was a writer and historian who lived and worked in Wurundjeri country near Healesville, Australia. His books include Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology. He worked at universities in Australia and the United Statesmm, including La Trobe University.


  • President’s Day: Patrick Wolfe on Settler-Colonialism, Genocide, and the Foundation of the United States

    To de-commemorate President’s Day, an annual holiday created to honor George Washington, we bring you an extract from Patrick Wolfe’s Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Racism. Here Wolfe explains how the founding of the United States spelled disaster for native populations. From the beginning, the American legal system treated natives as non-citizens that were, nevertheless, subordinate to the federal government; it was precisely this theory of law  vigorously supported by Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson (among others)  that made the nation one built on settler-colonialism.

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  • Black History Month Reading List

    In the United Kingdom, October is Black History Month. The celebration was originally introduced in 1926 on the initiative of Carter G. Woodson, the editor of the Journal of Negro History. In 2007, no fewer than 6,000 events were held in the UK as part of its programme. 

    In November, we will be launching set 13 of the Radical Thinkers series focussing on Black radicalism, including WEB Du Bois’s autobiographical essay
    Darkwater, and Michele Wallace’s consideration of the late-twentieth century black female experience in America, Invisibility Blues.

    To mark Black History Month, we're proud to present Verso titles past and present that are essential to the study and celebration of African and Caribbean history.

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  • Australia Day: Patrick Wolfe on the Racialisation of Indigenous People in Australia

    On the 26th January every year, people from all over Australia celebrate the founding of the British colony there. But what about the indigenous people who came before the British?

    In this unsettling extract from Patrick Wolfe's new book Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Racism, Wolfe focuses his attention on the process of racialisation of the indigenous people of Australia. This racialisation was a product of Britain's insatiable lust for land which would be used to cultivate the raw materials needed for the booming Industrial Revolution. In this way, settler colonialism was intrinsic to modernity. Yet, as Wolfe notes, "for Indigenous people, the concept of settler democracy can only be an oxymoron. Their attrition at the hands of that democracy reflects the core feature of settler colonialism, which is first and foremost a project of replacement. Settlers come to stay. In relation to Natives, as I have argued, settler colonialism is governed by a logic of elimination."

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