Rethinking Genocide in North America

Gregory D. Smithers

in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199232116
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Rethinking Genocide in North America

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  • History
  • Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
  • United States History



This article explores the concept of genocide in North America. Colonial North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries constituted an ever growing number of racially and ethnically heterogeneous sites of trade, exploration, and settlement. As Europeans ventured westward into the North American wilderness, territorial expansion, changing land-use patterns, new economic networks, and different systems of coerced labour all motivated settlers to think and act with different colonial motives that contributed to a sense of instability and flux in settler communities. What bound Europeans together, and provided the ideological and political basis for ordering settler societies, was an increasingly explicit racialized anxiety and disgust for Native Americans. The settlers' sense of disgust was important to the genocidal intentions behind different forms of colonial violence.

Keywords: Native Americans; colonialism; colonial violence; European settlers; North America

Article.  9621 words. 

Subjects: History ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing ; United States History

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