This essay examines how comparative literature as a discipline has never confronted its interlocking contexts of settler colonialism, imperialism, and racialization as its conditions of possibility in the United States. Inspired by recent efforts at decolonization in other disciplines, this essay calls for decolonizing comparative literature via a critique of the discipline from the nineteenth century to the present. From evolutionary scientism at its origin, overarching and continuing Eurocentrism, the disavowal of area studies, the rise of literary theory, and the primacy of non-US-focused postcolonial studies to problematic conceptions of multiculturalism, the discipline has scrupulously dissociated itself from the US reality. This dissociation, in the final analysis, replicates and supports the settler-colonial structure that evacuates the Indigenous peoples from their land and replaces Indigenous knowledge with settler knowledge, showing comparative literature to be a settler-colonial discipline. Hence, the necessary settler-colonial critique of comparative literature ought to be superseded by Indigeneity-centered practices in our work for decolonization to be possible.

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