The World Turned Inside Out

The World Turned Inside Out:Settler Colonialism as a Political Idea

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Settler colonialism and social control

Many would rather change worlds than change the world. The settlement of communities in ‘empty lands’ somewhere else has often been proposed as a solution to growing contradictions. While the lands were never empty, sometimes these communities failed miserably, and sometimes they prospered and grew until they became entire countries. Building on a growing body of transnational and interdisciplinary research on the political imaginaries of settler colonialism as a specific mode of domination, this book uncovers and critiques an autonomous, influential, and coherent political tradition – a tradition still relevant today. It follows the ideas and the projects (and the failures) of those who left or planned to leave growing and chaotic cities and challenging and confusing new economic circumstances, those who wanted to protect endangered nationalities, and those who intended to pre-empt forthcoming revolutions of all sorts, including civil and social wars. They displaced, and moved to other islands and continents, beyond the settled regions, to rural districts and to secluded suburbs, to communes and intentional communities, and to cyberspace. This book outlines the global history of a resilient political idea: to seek change somewhere else as an alternative to embracing (or resisting) transformation where one is.


  • The political theory of settler colonies has a centuries-long history amounting to a distinct, if little understood intellectual tradition. In The World Turned Inside Out: Settler Colonialism as a Political Idea, Lorenzo Veracini reconstructs this tradition for the first time. In seeking to escape the contradictions of the old world, he shows, settlers brought different ones to the new world that continue to structure the polities they founded.

    A. Dirk Moses, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • In this brilliant tour de force, a major theorist of settler colonialism ranges across the globe to unearth a hidden political tradition with enormous and costly consequences. By revealing how our world has been shaped and reshaped by the fantasy of going someplace else to escape revolution, The World Turned Inside Out has an urgent message: we must confront injustice and crisis right where we are.

    Jeffrey Ostler, University of Oregon
  • Global capitalism has always been driven by the export of people as well as commodities, of people as commodities. In The World Turned Inside Out, Lorenzo Veracino shows us how European migration to settler colonies was propelled by a specific project of domestic political “pacification”, designed to keep the homeland safe from revolution. In this superbly researched history of the politics, theories and cultural practices of settler colonialism, Veracino also reveals the utilitarian casual disregard for the millions of indigenous peoples across the continents whose bereft lives would be lost, disrupted, and forever disempowered as a consequence. This much-needed book uncovers the stark realities behind settler colonialism as it has been practised on every continent.

    Robert J. C. Young, New York University