Despite a growing recognition of the need to account for the profound effects of colonization in contemporary explanations of indigenous health and wellbeing (Durie, 2003; King, Smith & Gracey 2009), explanatory approaches that actually do so are relatively rare. Focusing on North America, Australasia and Scandinavia, this paper provides a comprehensive critical review of how the relationship between colonization, colonialism, health and wellbeing has been framed in the burgeoning, interdisciplinary field of indigenous health. Particular attention is given to the theorized mechanisms, both implicit and explicit, linking colonization/colonialism to indigenous outcomes at specific historical junctures. The review is a part of a pioneering international, interdisciplinary project that seeks to understand the drivers and mechanisms linking colonization and health for Australian aborigines, Māori and Swedish Sami.

Durie, M. H. (2003). The health of indigenous peoples. BMJ, 326(7388), 510-511.
King, M., Smith, A., & Gracey, M. (2009). Indigenous health part 2: the underlying causes of the health gap. The Lancet, 374(9683), 76-85.

Dr Per Axelsson has been working at Centre for Sami Research, Umeå University since 2004. His areas of interest include medical history, indigenous demography, longitudinal studies of colonization and health. He received his PhD in history on the history of polio epidemics in Sweden. During 2011, Dr. Axelsson was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Health and Society at the University of Melbourne. In 2012, Axelsson was selected as a Wallenberg Academy Fellow. The programme provides long-term funding and enables the best researchers to focus on their research and it contributes to the internationalization of the Swedish research environment. Together with colleagues from the University of Waikato, New Zealand and University of Melbourne, Australia and with support from the Wallenberg Academy Fellowship and the Swedish Research Council, Dr Axelsson is involved in longitudinal research on “Colonialism and Indigenous health in Transition” in Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, ca. 1850-2000.