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Bernard Bailyn, Director
HARVARD UNIVERSITY

 
 

1998 WORKING PAPER ABSTRACTS

   

The following list of abstracts describes the papers presented at the 1998 meeting of the Atlantic History Seminar, "Cultural Encounters in Atlantic Societies, 1500-1800." A copy of the program, where papers may be viewed in the context of the sessions, is also available, and links from each author's name on the program pages will return the reader to the appropriate abstract here.

Olutayo Adesina, "The Culture of Entrepreneurship, Cross-Cultural Visions, and the Construction of African-American Standards of Inheritance"

The basic substrata of African-American cultures of entrepreneurship and inheritance in the New World were Anglo-Saxon in origin. Although African slaves retained and held tenaciously to some of their traditional beliefs and cultural practices, the attitudes associated with commercial capitalism, plantation agriculture, and economic advancement, which were the dominant forces in early American development, enthroned a social division of labor based on the capitalist ethos. This made the adoption of capitalist philosophy a foregone conclusion. This study offers an analysis based on conditions that existed in Africa; from that baseline it evaluates the steady development within the slave society of an economically acquisitive mentality compatible with Anglo-Saxon traditions. The implications of this for the sociocultural and economic development of the African-Americans also receive attention. The study draws on a corpus of published works, written archival materials, and oral interviews to enhance the texture of the research. The study reveals a progressive diffusion of cultures and the African-American peoples' heritable adaptation to new sociocultural contexts. [WP # 98018]

Juliana Barr, "Gender and the Rituals of First Contact: Indian-Euroamerican Communication in the Colonial Spanish Borderlands"

This paper focuses on the intercultural borderlands of colonial North America and the dynamics of first contact between the Caddo Indians of the Hasinai Confederacy and the Spanish and French who entered their lands at the end of the seventeenth century. Facing differences of language, custom, and worldview that defied translation, the Euroamericans and Hasinais relied upon display and gesture to communicate intent, respect, honor, and power. Left with no other points of departure to bridge the gaps separating their two cultures, they appealed to basic social building blocks of gender to structure and interpret meaning. The ability to recognize as familiar certain representations of masculinity allowed them to successfully read and exchange ceremonial displays of male prowess and prestige meant to establish mutual respect and standing. Yet and Spanish and French found themselves in unfamiliar political territory when faced with Hasinai women's participation in diplomatic ritual. Euroamericans failed to recognize the different standards of female status and honor presented to them by the Hasinais, which led them to grave errors of presumption and judgment. These misinterpretations excused for European men what amounted to rape and abuse for Hasinai women. The seeming familiarity of markers of masculinity disguised critical differences of femininity that muddied and ultimately undermined cross-cultural friendship and alliance. [WP # 98005]

Maria Candida D. M. Barros, "The Office of Lingua: A Portrait of the Religious Interpreter in Brazil in the Sixteenth Century"

The object of this study is to examine the biographies of the linguas (interpreters) of the Jesuit order in Brazil in the sixteenth century as a way of throwing light on the use of the Tupi language in the missionary context. The aim is to identify the particular forms in which multilingual contact was orchestrated by the Jesuit order in colonial times in Brazil. At the present stage of the study of interpreters, my intention is to focus on the group of colonists who became linguas among the Jesuits. [WP# 98015]

Ned Blackhawk, "The Violent Edge of Empire: The Spanish-Ute Alliance and the Origins of the Great Basin Indian Slave Trade"

In the 1750s, affiliated bands of Ute Indians and Spanish authorities in New Mexico initiated treaty relations which bound these former enemies together in new and unexpected ways. Developed in a world of pandemic violence, the New Mexican–Ute alliance ended cycles of mutually destructive warfare between these societies. The violence of Spanish colonialism, however, did not end. It became displaced by these alliance members onto more distant and unknown peoples throughout New Mexico's northwestern hinterlands. Throughout the late eighteenth century, Indian peoples in the American Great Basin became unconsenting participants in Spain's North American empire. In the most remote corner of New Spain, Great Basin peoples witnessed unprecedented forms of disruption, violence, and slavery. [WP# 98020]

Alexander X. Byrd, "The Slave Trade from the Biafran Interior to Jamaica: Commerce, Culture Change, and Comparative Perspective"

Historians interested in the consequences of the Atlantic slave trade routinely study the articulation of African culture in the Americas. This paper argues that some of the ideas, identities, and practices studied as examples of transplanted local African cultures were not in fact carried and preserved from the homelands of the enslaved; rather, they developed in transit as enslaved Africans were driven from their homelands to the coast. The cultural history of the Atlantic slave trade requires, consequently, that historians pay close attention to social and cultural exigencies inherent in the actual commerce of slave trading. [WP #98001]

John F. Campbell, "Seeing 'She' across the Sea: Reassessing Notions of Womanhood in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Plantation World"

The eighteenth-century Atlantic world of commerce involved factors from England, Africa, North America, and the Caribbean and brought together not only the ideas of commerce held by these societies, but also their respective material cultures, including deep-seated ideas of gender relations. By analyzing some aspects of the gendered perception of "she" on two sides of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, the paper advances the perspective that with tranference to the new sugar economy of the Atlantic, women were afforded new opportunities for de facto participation in power structures normally reserved for men. To "see" these new opportunities, the paper presents plantation society as a center of competing power claimants that offered the ideal context for women, black and white, to assert new "empowered" identities. [WP# 98006]

Jorge Cañizares Esguerra, "Nation and Nature: Patriotic Representations of Nature in Late Colonial Spanish America"

This study explores the role that naturalists had in fashioning a Creole proto-national identity on the eve of the Wars of Independence. Creole naturalists offered utopian discourses that confirmed Creole patriots in the belief that the new nations were viable economic-political units; they also promoted the hope that each proto-national space was poised to become a major commercial emporium. Although America at large was presented as a continent of natural wonders, Creole naturalists emphasized the singularity of each proto-national space, each different from the rest and exceptional. This very singularity of each colonial space allowed Creole naturalists to call for the development of localized and distinct sciences, which in turn, reinforced the senses of distinctiveness and difference. [WP# 98031]

Ian Chambers, " 'Now we act more like Women than Head Men': Gender and the Native American in the Colonial South"

This paper looks at the changes brought to the gender construction of southeastern Native Americans by contact with Europeans during the eighteenth century. It looks at the construction of gender in both European and Native American society and argues that the hierarchical, dualistic system of the Europeans was to conflict with and bring radical change to the balanced tripartite system of the Native American. I will ask if gender roles, at least within current ideology, even existed within Native American communities and, if not, then what changes were brought about by their introduction with the arrival of the Europeans? [WP# 98007]

Guy Chet, "Starting Over: The Transformation of European Warfare in Colonial New England"

The military adventures of the English settlers in New England exposed the tensions between American conditions and European training and conventions. On a number of occasions, English military commanders adopted what is sometimes referred to as "American tactics." A close examination, however, indicates that more often than not, the colonists—as expected—were conservative and conventional. The interplay between firepower and mobility usually rendered the settlers ineffective offensively, as shock troops. Nevertheless, their reliance on a defensive strategy—in both offensive and defensive operations—often enabled them to overcome and overwhelm their opponents. On a few occasions, however, colonial forces were unwilling or unable to execute this strategy. Objective conditions in New England, as well as the Indians' guerrilla tactics, frustrated English commanders and challenged the effectiveness of European military conventions. These episodes offer a glimpse into the strategic and tactical vulnerability of European communities and military forces in New England. [WP# 98023]

Beatriz Helena Domingues, "Tradition and Modernity in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Iberia and the Iberian American Colonies"

Departing from discussion on the different insertion of Iberian countries and England into the "Western Modernity" in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this paper intends to show that by thinking in terms of "modernities" we will be better able to understand a number of societies—such as Latin America—often accused of not being modern enough. We are terming this situation a "medieval modernity" because of its option to modernize medieval Thomism instead of embracing modern philosophy and science. This Iberian way of being modern can be found also in the writings of colonial Iberian America, although assuming a different shape. The writings of Antonio Viera, a Portuguese/ Brazilian Jesuit, are here used to illustrate this accommodation of tradition to modernity in seventeenth-century Portugal and Brazil. [WP# 98029]

Martha Few, "Illness Accusations and the Cultural Politics of Power in Colonial Santiago de Guatemala, 1650-1720"

This essay explores the cultural politics of violence in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Santiago de Guatemala, capital of colonial Guatemala and the third largest city in Spanish America at that time. I argue that illness accusations, found in Guatemalan Inquisition and criminal records, reveal that the physical body became a central site of power contestations between individuals and the colonial state, and between community members themselves in intra-community conflicts. Descriptions of afflictions and how they were experienced bodily by inhabitants of the capital from all social and ethnic groups demonstrate the central role that local cultural practices played in reflecting and reshaping everyday life under colonial rule. Affliction accusations, however, also provided the opportunity for the colonial state to capitalize on the suffering of local populations and to use them to reinscribe colonial power through the intervention into disease events in community life. [WP# 98010]

Martin V. Fleming, "Franciscan Missionary Theater in Sixteenth-Century New Spain: Conquering Expectations and the Syncretic Reality"

Few studies have examined indigenous reactions to Spanish attempts to impose religious and cultural hegemony. It is very difficult to evaluate indigenous reactions through the written record, since surviving documents were written either by natives educated by Spanish friars or by the friars themselves, whose motive was the attempt to find the best ways to convert the "pagans" of Mexico to the Catholic faith. But Franciscan friars, with the help of Nahua informants, wrote one-act morality plays in the Nahuatl language, known as autos sacramentales, in which all the players and other participants were indigenous. All actors who played parts that the friars considered evil, such as the devil and demons, were dressed as pre-Columbian Nahuatl gods. The friars hoped that the indigenous would associate their lives before the arrival of the Spanish and their religion as evil and in need of change, but there is substantial evidence that the indigenous subverted the intended meaning that the friars were attempting to convey. The resulting religious syncretism is part of a unique Mexican church and culture, forming an enlightening case study of cultural encounters in the sixteenth-century Atlantic world. [WP# 98012]

Gunlög Fur, "Women's Authority and the Anomalies of Vision in Delaware Experiences of Colonial Encounters"

Among the Delaware Indians a complementary relationship between genders allowed women political authority as a consequence of their role as providers and distributors of food and through their link to the maintenance of peace. This relatively autonomous position of women was viewed by European colonists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as an indication of a disorderly society, and this becomes particularly apparent in ideas and practices concerning marriages and sexuality. Contact with and dependence upon Europeans influenced Delawares to alter perceptions concerning proper roles of men and women in their society while maintaining a cultural identity in which male and female gender stood in a reciprocal relationship to one another. {WP# 98008]

Patrick Griffin, " 'The Very Scum of Mankind': Context, Meaning, and the Creation of Scotch-Irish Ethnicity in Pennsylvania, 1717-1741"

This essay explores the ways in which Ulster's earliest migrants adapted to Pennsylvania society. Between 1717 and 1741, as massive migration immersed colonist and newcomer alike in an uncertain world, Pennsylvania's Scotch-Irish made sense of the plural context they encountered by infusing older notions of identity with new meaning. Using an Irish conception of the group situated in a corporate notion of British rights, the Scotch-Irish reinvented themselves as an ethnic community that set itself apart from others by erecting cultural boundaries and creating markers of identity around which the group defined itself. This complex process, which contributed to the reshaping of Pennsylvania society, reveals that contention marked the transition from a province dominated by English migrants to a plural one peopled by diverse groups. Moreover, the story of Scotch-Irish adaptation illustrates that Pennsylvanians defined themselves by and often clashed over conflicting conceptions of the Atlantic world. [WP# 98027]

Evan Haefeli, "Of Manitous and Men: First Contact in North America"

Did Native Americans think Europeans were gods or spirits when they first arrived in North America? If they did, why did they think so, and how did it affect the way the natives received the Europeans? This paper explores some of the theoretical problems at stake in interpreting native peoples' first reactions to Europeans. It sets the encounters in North America within a world-wide debate over the relationship between culture and historical action. Analyzing Henry Hudson's visit in particular through documentary and oral sources set in archeological and anthropological perspective, it suggests Native American cultures' flexible relationship to historical events. [WP# 98004]

Magnus Huber, "Afro-European Linguistic Encounters on the Lower Guinea Coast: The English Trading Posts on the Gold Coast and New World Creole Englishes"

This paper reconstructs the linguistic and sociolinguistic circumstances surrounding Afro-European encounters in and around the European trading posts of the Lower Guinea Coast and addresses the question of the contribution of early West Africa contact languages to the genesis of New World Creoles. The first section provides an overview of the history of Afro-European encounters on the Gold Coast and the early media for interethnic communication that arose in trading contacts. The second section considers the possible contribution of the early English-lexicon contact languages to the development of New World Creole Englishes by considering both sociohistorical and linguistic data. It will be concluded that the English jargon in use on the Guinea Coast was not diffused to the New World. Rather, today's Krio and West African Pidgin English are shown to be offshoots of Jamaican Creole and Gullah, introduced to Africa around 1800. {WP# 98002]

Stephen Hum, " 'Birds Die for Food': Money and the Mentalities of Exchange among the Iroquois and the English in the Mid-Eighteenth Century"

This paper reconstructs a regime of exchange around the eastern Great Lakes region in the mid-eighteenth century that entangled British Indian Agents, the Iroquois Confederacy, and European traders. Specifically, it traces the arrival and circulation of paper money in the Mohawk Valley, and beyond, and addresses a number of questions raised by this circulation. First, why did certain Indians accept money, particularly paper money, from the English? What did they think they were receiving? What were the patterns of circulation for this form of cash? Even if we could assume that money had uniform and transparent value for Europeans, that assumption cannot be extended into the cross-cultural exchange around the Great Lakes. In attempting to answer these questions, this paper arrives at a number of conclusions, but its central observation is this: by embedding the arrival and circulation of money among the Iroquois firmly in the unavoidable context of imperial politics, it suggests a need for historical inquiries into Indian-European relations in the Atlantic World to acknowledge the primacy of politics, war, and violence in the making of culture. [WP# 98019]

Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, "Poor Children and Enlightened Citizens: Lutheran Education in America, 1748-1800"

The pietist Lutheran clergy in eighteenth-century America attempted to maintain confessional uniformity by educating children and training pastors in sectarian schools. Without the support mechanisms of a European confessional state, the effort floundered. After the Revolution, a new generation of Lutheran pastors designed educational institutions to serve the new nation. These pastors created a new identity for their parishioners as ecumenical German speakers but disagreed about whether English had a role in their parishes. The leading advocate of German envisioned a federated system of self-governing, ethnic-religious communities. Ironically, American Lutherans accepted their right to community autonomy but rejected German-speaking pastors. [WP# 98028]

Vera Lind, "Crossing the Atlantic Twice: Black Africans and Americans in Late Eighteenth-Century Germany—Encounters of Color, Race, Identity, and the Exotic"

This paper explores whether during the centuries in which slavery existed in other countries the encounters with black Africans and black Americans developed along different lines in Germany, which possessed no colonies and did not participate in the overseas slave trade, and whether this led to a specifically German perspective on color, race, identity, and the exotic. German soldiers who fought for the British in America from 1776 to 1783 evaluated North American slavery in terms of their understanding of servitude in Germany and condemned the poor treatment of slaves. Nearly two hundred black Americans were recruited into the German forces and employed as musicians, and some of them accompanied their units back to Germany. Most led privileged but dependent lives as exotic symbols in German court and military life. Because Germans usually judged foreign peoples by religion rather than by skin color, baptized black soldiers could be and were integrated into society. The presence of these soldiers also contributed to the enlightened philosophical debate on defining difference within the human species, as naturalists and philosophers tried to substitute scientific methods for theological explanations. With this work the groundwork for future scientific and social distinctions between humans based on race was laid. [WP# 98034]

Susan Lindsey Lively, "Reacclimating to the Colonies: American Travelers Abroad and Their Experiences Returning to the Colonies, 1740-1776"

Americans who traveled to Britain in the generation before the American Revolution found themselves to be socially isolated, professionally frustrated, and culturally alienated. In their disappointment, they fostered a sense of otherness that amplified their sense of identity as Americans. Surprisingly, the travelers had an equally hard time readjusting to the colonies when they returned home. However, it was not until they returned to the colonies that they could truly make the distinction between the utopian visions of America they fostered abroad and the admirable but myopic reality of everyday life in the colonies. [WP# 98030]

Clarence Maxwell, "Race and Slavery: The Growth of 'Customs of the Country' in Bermuda, 1616-1669"

This paper examines how those laws and practices, called here "the customs of the country," came to govern the lives of "Negroes" and "mulatto" colonists in Bermuda. It places these developments within a context of labor and plantation priorities, as well as changes in "English" colonial attitudes. From the early 1600s, race relations were phlegmatic. These relations, and connected laws, became less and less so as the century progressed. By 1669, there existed in Bermuda a system that both enslaved and socially subordinated people according to race. [WP# 98014]

Marcy Norton, "Tobacco, Chocolate, and the Indianization of Europeans"

This paper plots a chronology and posits a set of causes for tobacco and chocolate's (both New World mind-altering substances) remarkable, though not instantaneous, success in the Old World. It rejects previous explanations that hinge on pharmacology, and the intentions of capitalist producers. Instead, I develop the role of, and give agency to, New World consumers (African-born and -descended, as well as European) who became acculturated to native Caribbean and Mexican ways, despite the Spanish ideological presumption against cultural fusion. In doing so, the project engages Latin American colonial culture from angles usually eschewed—from a point that allows serious examination of material culture, and from a point that allows one to gauge the effect of the Indian influence on European habits and beliefs, rather than vice versa. [WP# 98036]

William O'Reilly, " 'Informing the heart's desire': European Perceptions of Early America"

Knowledge of emerging New World settlements and opportunities was quick to diffuse from the western seaboard to central and eastern parts of the European continent. My paper contends that cultural knowledge and perceptions were ethnically filtered by Europeans desirous to include new knowledge in existing paradigms. Diverse aspects of New World society appealed to different European communities and news and information was consciously, often unconsciously, manipulated and re-presented, using stock clichés, to be made more palatable to the target community. Blanket verbal and pictorial representations of "America" and "Europe" synthetically emerged to feed the appetite for understanding the New World. It is further suggested that the transfer of cultural clichés from Turk to Native American highlights the complex origins of European perceptions of America. These images had substantial effects on the creation of early American society. [WP# 98033]

Melanie Perreault, "Celibate Sailors, Hairy Chests, and Virgin Lands: Contesting Masculinities in the Americas"

The collision of English and Native American cultures in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries forced a mutually constructed dialogue in which both sides of the contact attempted to gain power over the other. Through a comparative study of the English experience in Guiana and Virginia, this paper examines the use of gendered discourse to make outsiders both recognizable and inferior. By associating the natives with feminine traits and themselves with masculine characteristics, the English hoped to establish a natural hierarchy with themselves at the top. The natives, however, responded with their own cultural values that challenged the visitors' masculinity. In the end, the failure of either side to construct the other as feminine and subservient led to increased intercultural friction and escalating violence. [WP# 98003]

John Pollack, "Colonial Missionaries and Indian Languages in North America, 1600-1700"

Texts that show English and French missionaries struggling to learn and to represent Indian speech and Indian languages are not simple linguistic records, but instead markers of debates within colonies and between colonists and Native populations. New French Jesuits and Ursulines sought to master Indian languages as a means of including Native tribes within the French colonial orbit, while New England Puritans initiated a massive effort to print in an "Indian language" for separate Native Christian communities. Comprehending the languages of Native America proved to be an unexpected challenge, however, one to which missionaries ultimately responded by drawing newly rigid distinctions between "civilized" and "savage." [WP# 98016]

Frank T. Proctor III, "Black vs. White Magic: Curanderismo, Race, and Culture in Eighteenth-Century Mexico"

Mexican Inquisition records for curanderismo (curing) from the eighteenth century evidence variations within Mexican popular culture based on racial—or, better, cultural—affiliations that remain largely unexplored in the ethnohistory of colonial Mexico. The class-based distinction of elite versus popular "mestizo" culture does not adequately explore such variations within Mexican culture, particularly Afro-Mexican cultural constructions. Whereas white/euro-mestizo curanderismo was immersed in popular Catholicism, Afro-Mexican forms were derived from a variant of Mexican culture fundamentally influenced by Central West African cosmological understandings of magic, illness, and healing even as European and indigneous elements were incorporated into it. [WP# 98009]

Jorge Martins Ribeiro, "Diplomacy and American Independence: The Portuguese Atlantic World and the United States"

Portugal and British North America had early contacts, especially during the eighteenth century, that were mainly of a commercial nature. After the independence of the United States, direct exchanges increased between the two countries. Although the American Revolution aroused sympathies in Portugal, the Lisbon cabinet closed the ports to American shipping, recognizing the new nation only in 1783. The U.S. executive accepted the wishes of the Portuguese government and appointed a minister resident to Lisbon. Both he and his successor were able men who got to know Portuguese life and character well. Among Portugal's representatives in the United States, two had significant intellectual capacity, acquired a good knowledge of American society and politics, and did all in their power to improve bilateral relations. [WP#98035]

Adam Rothman, "Slaves, Soldiers, and Free Men in the Battle of New Orleans"

This paper investigates the histories of three groups of people of African descent whose lives intersected at the Battle of New Orleans. Slaves in the sugar parishes of Louisiana, free people of color in New Orleans, and soldiers in theBritish West India Regiments all participated in the battle, but in very different ways and for very different reasons. A comparative history of these groups before, during, and after the British invasion of Louisiana reveals the wide range of political strategies and corporate identities adopted by people of African descent in the Americas during the early nineteenth century. This comparison also suggests the determinative impact of state power on politics and culture in the Afro-Atlantic world. [WP# 98024]

Claudio Saunt, "The Power of Writing: Literacy and the Colonization of Southeastern Indians"

Historians have long debated the degree to which American Indians were awed by alphabetic writing, but well after it had lost its power to amaze and astonish, writing disrupted American Indian communities and shaped cultural encounters in the Atlantic world. Oral communication, and especially storytelling, diffused tensions within Indian groups and helped them maintain cohesive identities. Because their colonial neighbors privileged writing over speech, however, Indians began devaluing spoken words. At the same time, some Native Americans appropriated writing to secure their leadership. Among the Creek Indians of the Deep South, writing undermined the loose alliance that defined these people and ultimately facilitated the consolidation of political power. [WP# 98017]

Benjamin Schmidt, "American Allies: The Dutch Encounter with the New World, 1492-1650"

This essay, the origins of which lie in a larger project on Dutch cultural geography, opens with a swift historiographical overview of the peculiar state of Dutch studies, with special attention to colonial history and the early modern (Dutch) Atlantic world. The body of the essay deals with the process by which the Dutch assimilated the New World: particularly the rhetorical construction of "America" and the evolution of this imaginative construct within the context of politics and culture in the new Republic. Politically isolated rebels of the late sixteenth century strenuously shaped the American narrative to project a shared experience between themselves and the Indians, both "nations" having suffered the tyranny of Spain, and the paper explores the effect this had on the Republic's colonial initiatives. In demonstrating the crucial role within the Netherlands of this American discourse, the essay suggests a subtle revision to J. H. Elliott's thesis of the New World's "blunted" impact on the Old. It emphasizes, finally, the need to contextualize more carefully and locally Europe's richly complex age of encounter. [WP# 98032]

Jennifer M. Spear, " 'The low orders of every color': Drinking, Dancing, and Disorder in Colonial Louisiana"

This paper, part of a larger project that investigates the process of racial formation in eighteenth-century Louisiana, examines the "cultural encounters" that occurred in colonial New Orleans and its environs among the "low orders of every color"—African and Indian slaves, gens de couleur libre, and European soldiers, sailors, and laborers. These encounters, in taverns and dance halls, on plantations, and in the woods, were perceived by colonial officials and elites as threats to their conception of social order and challenged their endeavors to create a hierarchical society in eighteenth-century New Orleans. [WP# 98013]

David Tavarez, "Boundaries of Evangelization: From Ideologies of Translation to Dialectics of Reception in Early and Mid-Colonial Nahua Doctrinal Genres"

This essay will explore the limitations of evangelization projects in New Spain through two case studies. First, the difficulties of providing a Nahuatl translation for the notion of the Trinity—as attested by texts from the 1550's to the mid-eighteenth century—will be analyzed as a problem of designation. Then, an analysis of a sixteenth-century Valley of Mexico pictorial catechism will investigate the reinterpretation of this genre by Nahua readers as a local historical account of evangelization. It will be argued that these two cases reflect linguistic and discursive boundaries at which ambitious evangelization projects gave way to a dialectical process of production and reception in which neither missionary nor indigenous cultural categories prevailed. [WP# 98011]

James H. Williams, "Defining, Defending, and Expanding Dutchness: The Cultural Struggle for the Early Mid-Atlantic Colonies"

Cultural identity in the early mid-Atlantic colonies was not a passive reflection of culture. Rather, the Dutch leaders of New Netherland constructed and used a specific definition of Dutch culture in the region to incorporate a variety of peoples—Iroquois, Delaware, English, and Swedish, among others—into their struggling colony. Reconstructing and examining this definition of Dutchness allows us to begin to bring coherence to an extraordinarily diverse region of the Atlantic world. It also reveals a great deal about the colonists' and natives' own perceptions of the multifaceted struggle to succeed in and around the mid-Atlantic colonies. [WP# 98025]

Linda Wimmer, " 'To Encourage a Trade with the Indians': Brazilian Tobacco and Cross-Cultural Relations in the Hudson's Bay Company Fur Trade, 1690-1750"

This paper explores the role of Brazilian tobacco in interactions between English factors and indigenous traders around Hudson Bay between 1690 and 1750. Rejecting Virginia tobacco, trading parties insisted instead on the Brazilian variety already used by rival French traders. Their preferences forced the Hudson's Bay Company to incorporate this commodity into trade and supporting interactions such as gift exchanges, rituals, and barter for meat, goods, information, and the services of hunters, porters, letter carriers, and guides. Brazilian tobacco also helped to attract new groups of traders to the post. These uses made it crucial to establishing the context for trade. [WP# 98022]

Michael Witgen, "'They Have for Neighbors and Friends the Sioux': The Migration, Adaptation, and Transformation of the Western Ojibwas in the Dakota-Ojibwa Alliance"

Confronted by the chaos and changes brought by an encroaching Atlantic world in colonial North America, the Western Ojibwas employed cultural adaptation as a survival strategy; and with their success, they transformed themselves, the Dakotas, and the French empire in Canada. At the close of the seventeenth century the Western Ojibwas forged an alliance with the Dakotas by creating social ties that bound these different ethnic groups together. The shared risk of their association and their connection to French Canada gained by cooperating in the fur trade made allies out of former enemies. This pattern of creating social bonds through joint land use reflected a process of peace making and social integration by which the Ojibwa defined themselves. They brought order to a changing environment by constructing social relationships that facilitated migration, adaptation, and rebirth within a transformed physical and social space. [WP# 98021]

Natalie A. Zacek, "'Tomb of the Blissful Man': The Jews of Nevis, West Indies"

This paper examines the development of a Jewish community in the Leeward Island colony of Nevis over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Having been forced by the threat of the Inquisition to leave the Brazilian sugar colony of Recife, Sephardic Jews scattered throughout the Dutch and English colonies of North America and the Caribbean, and developed a widely ranging and long-lasting network of kinship, friendship, and clientage that connected Jews in Europe and the Americas. The Jewish community of Nevis represented an important node in this system, while simultaneously becoming integrated into the white, Protestant society of this intensely profitable sugar island. [WP# 98026]
 
 
     
  © 2009 by The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Created January 16, 1998; last revised February 24, 2011.