Intercultural Violence in Early America: Conflict in a Comparative Perspective

AHA Session 120
Saturday, January 8, 2011: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Dartmouth Room (Marriott Boston Copley Place)
David L. Preston, The Citadel
Peter Silver, Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Session Abstract

“Intercultural Violence in Early America: Conflict in a Comparative Perspective.”


This panel brings together a diverse group of scholars whose research areas range from New England to the Chesapeake but find common ground in their interest in intercultural violence and identity in early America.  Using court records, archaeological evidence, private narratives and public documents, these studies each examine cases of intercultural violence as a means to get to larger questions about cross-cultural interactions during the formative years in colonial America.  The intent of the panel is to spark discussions of a comparative nature, identifying common themes that carry across geographical and cultural divides while also acknowledging significant variance in both the manifestation and understanding of intercultural violence in different regions.  The session is designed to appeal to a wide audience of scholars interested in Native American history, the history of violence, and cultural negotiation.           

The panel participants are: Peter Silver (comment), Melanie Perreault, Paul Moyer, and Andrew Lipman (presenters), and  David Preston (chair).  Perreault’s paper, “’Seduced & moved by the instigation of the Devil’: Intercultural Violence and the Courts in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake,” focuses on the court system as a locus for negotiating competing ideologies of intercultural violence in early Virginia and Maryland.  Lipman examines the efforts of Indians to navigate the dangerous cultural terrain between New England and New Netherland in his paper, “The Walls Near Wall Street: Violence and the Culture of Fortification near Long Island Sound, 1645-1664.”  And in his paper, “’Keeping up the Indian Yell’: The Intercultural Context of Agrarian Violence,” Moyer explains the connections between agrarian violence and intercultural meetings in the Pennsylvania backcountry.  Peter Silver, whose book Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America recently won the Bancroft Prize for American History, will comment on the papers and the panel as a whole.           

In accordance with AHA guidelines, the panel reflects both gender diversity and the desire to include participants at various stages of their careers.  While we are submitting a proposal for a formal panel, the participants are keenly aware of the AHA’s recommendation to move away from the past practice of simply reading papers to an audience, and will offer engaging presentations including appropriate visuals and dynamic delivery.

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