Bonnie Campbell a publié un compte rendu du livre de Paula Butler : Colonial Extractions : Race and Canadian Mining in Contemporary Africa (University of Toronto Press, 2015, 384 pages) dans Canadian Dimension, Vol. 50 no.1 Hiver 2016, pages 34-35.
Paula Butler’s book asks hard and unpleasant questions : Is Canada engaged today in a colonialist process of resource appropriation ? If so, what makes this possible ? How is it that racialized structural violence, manifested as resource appropriation, becomes routinized and legitimised ?
Not all will welcome the analysis presented. It is nonetheless very important that we be attentive to the argument it sets out if we, as Canadians, are to be home to investments leading to activities which contribute to the betterment of societies on the African continent and in all regions of the world, including Canada itself, rather than to conflict and violence.
The argument presented in Colonial Extractions is that we are trapped in a world view, which has its origins in Canada’s colonial past, to the effect that we are entitled to mine resources wherever they may be. This view was at the centre of 19th century colonial domination and has been reproduced up to the present. Its perpetuation, however, puts those who endorse it in an increasingly contradictory position because the model which it promotes rests on institutional and power relations that are in contradiction with the values with which Canadians want to be associated.
Informed mainly by post-colonial and critical race theory, the volume represents a rigorous, long overdue deconstruction of the domestic history of the Canadian mining industry, including its relationship with the Canadian state and its contemporary activities in African countries.
The analysis rests on very solid theoretical underpinnings, including the need to reconcile the apparent contradiction of the coexistence of democratic governance and colonial governance and, with regard to Canada, the coexistence of a liberal democratic state and a colonial state.
The answer is to be found in Charles Mills’ notion of “white supremacy” as a political system. P. Butler goes on to draw on D.T. Goldberg to explain her analysis of neoliberalism as mode of racist power :
« The persistence of this racial ordering of society is presented not as a perplexing anomaly of modernity but as a sign of the extent to which modernity is inscribed with racial - colonial epistemologies and modalities of power.” (p. 45).
The theory of modern state as colonialist has particular resonance for white settler states such as Canada, the United States and Australia. The analysis underlines the importance of the notion of the “white settler state” which is simultaneously Goldberg’s “racial state” in which domination operates in the form of racialized governmentality or biopower : “Whatever the liberal claims to meritocracy, and whatever the promises of multiculturalism, an intersecting class-race economic stratification- de facto if not je jure racism- persists in Canada.”(p. 51).
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