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Accepted paper:

Affects of Dispossession: The Colonial Politics of Settler Feelings in Native Qom Territories (Argentine Chaco)


Tamar Blickstein (Marie Curie Fellow, Ca' Foscari)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among settlers and native Qom in the Argentine Chaco, this paper develops the concept of "affects of dispossession" to explain how settler feelings of belonging sustain and reproduce the colonial logics of native territorial dispossession.

Paper long abstract:

Native people have not disappeared, yet the myth of the "vanished native" remains a key feature of settler colonial ideologies to this day, and a central mechanism of ongoing indigenous dispossession. Affect and emotion have often been regarded as less crucial to such processes than the material stakes of land and labor politics. Yet this paper argues that settler affects - of belonging, loss, fear - are indispensable to understanding how colonial structures of dispossession are reproduced, as well as the land and labor politics they entail. This paper develops the concept of "affects of dispossession" as tool for understanding these mechanisms ethnographically. The paper draws on an ethnographic case study among settlers of European descent on ancestral Qom territories (Gran Chaco, Argentina); the settlers talk, act and feel like founders in an empty land, despite having built their plantation economies on Qom land and labor. I will outline some of the ways affects of belonging and loss are central to this racialized disavowal, and to the consequences it bears for native lives and livelihoods. The paper contributes ethnographic and conceptual tools for navigating the often overlooked role of affect in sustaining politics of inequality and colonial racism.

panel AA09
The Politics of Emotion across Anthropology and Geography