by Shona N. Jackson

About Shona N. Jackson

Shona N. Jackson is Associate Professor of English at Texas A&M University. She is the author of Creole Indigeneity: Between Myth and Nation in the Caribbean (2012).


“Colonialism” shares its roots with the Latin terms colōnia and colonus. Colōnia is a colony or settlement of conquered or annexed lands by Roman citizens. Colonus designates someone who settles, cultivates, or farms land (Glare [1982] 2000). The terms refer, respectively, to a reorganization of space and to its peopling with foreigners, whose political loyalties remain external to the colonized space (Kohn 2014). Neither term, however, distinguishes among types of colonialism such as settler, administrative, or extractive. They elide the accompanying violence, administrative apparatuses, and displacements of the original inhabitants of colonized territories. Later definitions of “colony” encapsulate early Latin meanings when denoting a “settlement in a new country” or “a body of people who settle in a new locality” (Oxford English Dictionary, n.d.-­a). In a feeble attempt to account for the extant occupants of colonized space, a genealogical definition of the term, which dates its first use to an 1853 lady’s travel journal, designates it as “the colonial system or principle. Now freq. used in the derogatory sense of an alleged policy of exploitation of backward or weak peoples by a larger power” (ibid.).