The World Turned Inside Out
Settler Colonialism as a Political Idea
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320 pages / September 2021 / 9781839763823
September 2021 / 9781839763847

Settler colonialism and social control

Many would rather change worlds than change the world. The settlement of communities in “empty lands” somewhere else has often been proposed as a solution to growing contradictions. The lands were never empty. Sometimes the settlement communities failed miserably and sometimes they prospered and grew until they became entire countries.

Building on a growing body of transnational and interdisciplinary research on the political imaginaries of settler colonialism as a specific mode of domination, this book uncovers and subjects to critique an autonomous, influential, and coherent political tradition—a tradition still relevant today. It follows the ideas and the projects (and failures) of those who left or planned to leave growing and chaotic cities and challenging and confusing economic circumstances, those who wanted to protect endangered nationalities, and those who intended to pre-empt forthcoming revolutions of all sorts, including civil and social wars.

This book outlines the global history of a resilient political idea: to seek change somewhere else as an alternative to embracing (or resisting) transformation where one is.


“The political theory of settler colonies has a centuries-long history amounting to a distinct, if little understood intellectual tradition. In The World Turned Inside Out, Lorenzo Veracini reconstructs this tradition for the first time. In seeking to escape the contradictions of the old world, he shows, settlers brought different ones to the new world that continue to structure the polities they founded.”

“In this brilliant tour de force, a major theorist of settler colonialism ranges across the globe to unearth a hidden political tradition with enormous and costly consequences. By revealing how our world has been shaped and reshaped by the fantasy of going someplace else to escape revolution, The World Turned Inside Out has an urgent message: we must confront injustice and crisis right where we are.”

“Global capitalism has always been driven by the export of people as well as commodities, of people as commodities. In The World Turned Inside Out, Lorenzo Veracino shows us how European migration to settler colonies was propelled by a specific project of domestic polit-ical ‘pacification,’ designed to keep the homeland safe from revolution. In this superbly researched history of the politics, theories and cul-tural practices of settler colonialism, Veracino also reveals the utilitarian casual disregard for the millions of indigenous peoples across the continents whose bereft lives would be lost, disrupted, and forever disempowered as a consequence. This much-needed book uncovers the stark realities behind settler colonialism as it has been practised on every continent.”

“This important book not only salvages the global history of settler colonialism from its traditional nationalist packaging, but also reunites ‘settlerism’ with its alter ego, metropolitan revolutionary movements. At last, the ‘world turned upside down’ meets ‘the world turned inside out.’”

“With this book Lorenzo Veracini cements his reputation as one of the most ambitious and insightful scholars of settler colonialism. Sweep-ing in its historical and geographical reach, and bold in its arguments, The World Turned Inside Out is a provocative and illuminating analysis of the centrality of settler colonialism in the making of the modern world.”

The World Turned Inside Out is a brilliant exploration of settler colonialism as a political tradition in the making, predicated on a search for actual space in order to get away in Europe from existing upheavals or removing those who potentially can cause such an upheav-al. Lorenzo Veracini focuses on such dislocations that brought displacement of indigenous people as part of the history of Western revolu-tion and counter revolution. As such it asks us to rethink both tradition and revolution as transnational and global phenomena that sus-tained the tradition of settler colonialism even after most of these projects ended, preserving inside and outside the West Eurocentrism, racism, and capitalism. While the revisited historical chapters might seem familiar, you are invited here to reappraise them from a new and contemporary vantage point—in the midst of a new era of dislocation, displacement, resettlement and maybe even unsettlement. The hu-man tendency to dislocate (and displace) in order to avoid upheaval, insoluble predicaments and persecution may move in the future be-yond to extra-terrestrial spaces. Before this happens, it is good moment to ponder on its history until today and this is an excellent guide for such a tour into the past before we re-invent a new kind of settler colonialism.”

“What Veracini terms ‘volitional’ or ‘voluntary’ displacement stems from the belief that migration and settlement can head off social unrest. The World Turned Inside Out presents a global history of this phenomenon through wide-ranging and meticulously researched case studies.”

“Veracini takes his readers on a captivating journey spanning five centuries and six continents in an effort to trace what he believes to be a recurring yet under-analysed historical movement.”

The World Turned Inside Out is readable and compelling. It reflects Veracini's enormous intellectual reach across vast timescales and beyond the Anglo-world. The chapters chart settler colonialism’s beginnings, its peak and its ends by weaving through some well-known and other remarkably obscure settler projects. The sum of these parts is a worldly, rich and new intellectual history.”

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