Transversing Settler Colonial Capital: Indigenous Dispossession and Non-White Labour Exploitation




Drawing from Indigenous and critical race approaches, I develop the concept “transversal modes of life” to theorize the operations and effects of how settler colonial capital affects relationships of solidarity between Black peoples, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour (BIPOC). I argue that transversal modes of life contribute to: (1) better understanding and critiquing the ways that colonial-capitalist relations emerge to create an array of complex, varied, and uneven structural divisions between and among BIPOC; and (2) building a politics of action predicated on plural modes of being and becoming that transcend these processes and generate place-based relations that respect and actively support what Glen Sean Coulthard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson refer to as “grounded normativity.” Through a critical inquiry into the salmon-canning industry in early to mid-twentieth-century British Columbia, Canada, I contend that the analytical lens of transversal modes of life shows that settler colonial relations of capital are characterized by the following three features: first, although people of colour may not choose their social positioning with Indigenous peoples in the development of the settler colonial state, this does not remove our complicity in formations that continue to dispossess Indigenous peoples from their lands and waters but in fact complicates that relationship; second, capitalist development within the Canadian settler colonial context produces transversal modes of life that have developed by structurally positioning Black peoples and people of colour within processes of dispossession; and third, transversality draws attention to the dynamics between Indigenous dispossession and exploitation of non-white labour, which are always already relational. 

Author Biography

Roshon Singh Nandhra, University of Victoria

Roshon Singh Nandhra is a South Asian and Southern European settler on the territories of the Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ peoples. He is currently in the social and political thought MA program at York University. Last year, he graduated from the University of Victoria with a bachelor of arts degree in political science and economics with a minor in philosophy. His research focuses on historical folds in the expansion of empire, complex in-tandem developments of colonialisms and racisms, uneven circulations of power and capital, postcolonial theories on the limits of commensurability and translation between plural life-worlds, and resistance and solidarity frameworks in settler colonial contexts.