Conquest, extermination, domination and extraction
July 7, 2020 10:42 PM   Subscribe

The Empire Of All Maladies, Nick Estes writes in The Baffler.
Colonial contagions and Indigenous resistance
posted by the man of twists and turns (3 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Am I correctly identifying the thesis as being that the story about infectious disease is centered as a means of avoiding the need to look at reasons for death that have more human agency involved (on the part of the colonizers)?
posted by PMdixon at 8:17 AM on July 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

That's how it begins, yes, but then it extends that argument into the many contemporary tragedies for US Indigenous people. Just as the infectious disease hypothesis renders colonial policies to be passive and Indigenous genocide as inevitable, so does explaining horrendous CV19 mortality as a result of pre-existing conditions excuse the fact that those conditions were caused by white supremacist policy-making.
posted by Think_Long at 9:10 AM on July 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

Yeah sorry, I meant to speak in both past and present tense. I certainly agree - it seems of a piece with the argument that there's no such thing as a natural disaster without human involvement. It's a really ugly brand of Calvinism that uses the outcomes of a white supremacist society to then justify that white supremacist structure as a preordained outcome it is nigh sinful to attempt to change.

I have had some small success in changing how people talk around me by asking people to spell out the implications of their claims of the relevance of "preexisting health conditions." Some, not a lot.

I grew up more or less halfway between the Navajo Nation and the western Pueblos, and the way that the people in positions of authority (who were almost all either white or able to name which of their ancestors are named in the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo) would talk about eg alcoholism on the rez very much lines up with the arguments in this piece.
posted by PMdixon at 9:22 AM on July 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

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