This article draws on an analysis of the consistent phenomenon of “settler shock”—the persistent invocations of surprise expressed by settler Canadians whenever there are reports of historical or ongoing violence against Indigenous Peoples—to articulate the dynamics of colonial fetishism and settler disavowal. It demonstrates how these expressions of shock are not, as they might appear, authentic responses to genuinely unknown events but rather are part of a system of discourses that conceal the violence of settler colonialism by erasing its continuities, displacing its violence into the past, and removing Indigenous subjects from the circle of “legitimate” citizens against whom military violence would be prohibited. In particular, it considers different forms of colonial disavowal—one that hinges on time, the other on political status—demonstrating how the fetishism of land as colonial property is the stabilizing force on which colonial disavowal rests. It ends by suggesting, however, that settler colonialism can never, in truth, be stabilized.

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