Power, Knowledge, and Culture: The Centrality of Kinship Networks in the Early Republic South

AHA Session 50
Friday, January 6, 2012: 9:30 AM-11:30 AM
Miami Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Lorri Glover, Saint Louis University
Lorri Glover, Saint Louis University

Session Abstract

Historians increasingly recognize the significance of kinship networks as facilitating the aggrandizement of power, transfer of knowledge, and negotiation of cultural values within and between societies.  This session features three different kinds of kinship networks with the purpose of explicating the structures and meanings of these significant connections.  Natalie Inman explains the "cultural brokerage" conducted by Anglo-Americans, who married into powerful Cherokee and Chickasaw families, and their kin who used family connections to obtain and wield power on the contested southern frontier.  Mark Cheathem describes how Andrew Jackson's paternal advice to his wards, and their reactions to that advice, reflected evolving ideas of masculinity in the antebellum era.  Richard Wright and Kenneth Wheeler follow a father and son, Jacob and Moses Stroup, who built iron furnaces across the South, and who also interacted with extensive national and international networks that rippled out from their tightly-knit family connections.  The Stroups' story illustrates the significance of family connection to the transfer of technical knowledge and the growth of a professional class in the American South.  Taken together, these three papers render menaings and functions of different kinds of families and connect kinship studies to other arenas of historical interest.  This session will be of particular interest to historians of family and kinship networks, inter-cultural relationships, the United States from the Revolutionary era to the Civil War, and the American South.  As part of the growing historiography on the importance of kinship networks to American history, this panel illustrates how kinship bonds formed social, political, and cultural allegiances that shaped the ways Americans of different cultural and economic backgrounds made history.

See more of: AHA Sessions