Political Theology, Discovery and the Roots of the ‘Great Replacement’


The academic journal Race & Class recently published my article “Political theology, discovery and the roots of the ‘great replacement’” OnlineFirst. It will be included in one of their upcoming issues–probably summer or autumn. Race & Class is considered one of the, if not the, most important English language journals on racism and imperialism so I am particularly excited to have a piece in the publication.

The article argues that the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory popular amongst many on the Right is not a new phenomenon. It is something endemic to European culture that can be traced back to the so-called Reconquista of al-Andalus (Spain). Here is the full abstract:

In recent years, fears of the ‘great replacement’, popularised by Renaud Camus, warning against a supposed Islamist take-over of France, have motivated White supremacist violence and resulted in mass shootings in Europe, New Zealand and the US. The author shows how this conspiracy theory can be traced back to medieval theological doctrines used to justify the conquest of Muslim lands in Al-Andalus and later refined to warrant the European subjugation of the Indigenous nations of the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. Through papal authority, the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ bestowed a God-given right on Christian nations to take and control lands, wiping out or confining Indigenous people, to then repopulate countries at will − itself the real racial reversal of settler colonialism. The theological argument is now thoroughly secularised in law in the US. ‘A great replacement’, incorporating the Doctrine of Discovery coupled with eugenicist ideas, can be found in the works of Lothrop Stoddard, and echoes are found even today in utterances from US politicians and on Fox News.

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