Ownership Claims in Settler Societies

Settler societies (Australia, New Zealand, USA)

In countries that were built on immigration, CPO claims are less clear-cut, as contrasting narratives of ownership can be put forward, e.g., the narrative of indigenous groups being the longest established groups and that of European settlers being the first group to ‘discover’ these territories. These European colonizers see themselves as first comers compared to the groups of immigrants that arrived later. Thus, there seem to be two first comers, ones from a distant past, and ones from more recent past. Whose first occupancy is more salient depends on where one starts telling the history and in comparison to whom. Moreover, while descendants of Europeans nowadays cannot deny that indigenous groups were there first, they might instead stress their ingroup’s ownership based on conquest and cultivation. These settings are interesting laboratories for studying what claims are made by the dominant white group, and whether particular claims arise in response to the activation of particular needs. Furthermore, we study how attributions of ownership to the ingroup versus outgroup could influence intergroup relations. For instance, emphasizing the dominant group’s ownership of the country, as opposed to that of the indigenous outgroup, might evoke among European descendants resistance to current immigration and to compensatory rights for the indigenous peoples.

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