The Fire Nation and the United States: Genocide as the Foundation for Empire Building

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Contribution to a Book

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Avatar: The Last Airbender and Philosophy: Wisdom from Aang to Zuko


Helen De Cruz and Johan De Smedt



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Genocide results from a complex process of intentions, ideologies, and actions that are put in motion to achieve an outcome that benefits the perpetrators. Genocide is part of the history of the United States and of the Fire Nation in Avatar: The Last Airbender that is typically unquestioned and underplayed. Avatar: The Last Airbender opening refers to the old days, a time of peace when the Avatar kept the balance between the Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and Air Nomads. The United States' intentional extermination of diverse peoples is an inseparable part of the processes used to build its continental empire. Seen as a means to securing the land, destroying Indigenous peoples is understood as a necessity, rather than a tactic of empire building. The foundations of the Fire Nation and the United States were built on unstable grounds, causing one to collapse and the other to wrestle with a reckoning on its origins.


Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences