The Spatial Violence of Colonialism

Author(s): Kathryn E Sampeck

Year: 2016


A variant of symbolic and structural violence can be termed "spatial violence".  Colonial reordering of space, expressed as civilizing, moral order, created iniquities in power that physically prevented access to resources and segregated people into controllable spaces for achieving imperial schemes. This process treated land as one thing and its residents as something separate, objectified, commodified, and thus removable. Spatial violence in the case of many Native Americans was extreme, not just containing residents in new ways through forced resettlement, but unseeing their very presence. The ideology and processes of referring to and treating land as "wilderness," uninhabited, or widowed created a mandate for colonizing "empty" land that was in actuality the locale of Native American settlements or subsistence, ritual, and other activities. Sixteenth-century Spanish American examples from the US Southeast and the Izalcos region of colonial Guatemala demonstrate how archaeology can reveal the processes and effects of spatial violence.

Cite this Record

The Spatial Violence of Colonialism. Kathryn E Sampeck. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434318)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 50