Resistant and Receptive, Insiders and Outsiders: Native Peoples and the Making of Early Modern Indigenous Sovereignty, Colonial Subjects, and Slaves

AHA Session 142
Conference on Latin American History 21
Friday, January 5, 2018: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Virginia Suite B (Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level)
M. Kittiya Lee, California State University, Los Angeles
Tupi or Not Tupi? The Indian Par Excellence in Early Modern Eastern South America
M. Kittiya Lee, California State University, Los Angeles
Indigenous Slavery from Out on the Edge
Nancy E. van Deusen, Queen's University
The Audience

Session Abstract

One common question, borne of our work on the native peoples of the Americas, joins our efforts in addressing the following inquiry: how do we give voice to the historical subjects who we research when their ideologies, practices, and places simply do not fall neatly into the categories upheld in modern scholarship? We propose to explore this issue of historical elisions and silences in a panel session that retells the construction of early modern ideologies. Our presentations highlight the roles of native peoples of the Americas in shaping the era’s notions of territory and sovereignty, and of colonial legal and social categories of “Indian” and of “slave.” We employ transdisciplinary methods for historical inquiry. We re-read travel and missionary accounts, court records and legal papers, cartographic charts, dictionaries, and grammars to challenge the historiographic insistence that passes over the centrality of America’s native peoples to the history of the early modern world.

Our program moves from transnational and regional studies to hemispheric and global sweeps, with the intention that first, the chronology of our presentations serves as a reminder that pre-modern historical actors did not confine themselves to the demarcations that outline today’s nation-states; and second, the global framework we propose not only reveals salient comparisons and contrasts but underlines the interconnectedness of the sixteenth-century world when globalization launched. Scott Manning Stevens begins the discussion by tracing early manifestations of British, French, and Dutch recognition of indigenous sovereignty in maps and printed atlases, scrutinizing the ways by which the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) of North America influenced European cartographic traditions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Next, Kittiya Lee argues for the indigenous intellectual colonization of eastern South America when she shows how the interactions between and among diverse Indian and non-Indian groups formulated the categories of good and bad Indians, and passed these onto dominant society in the Portuguese and Spanish colonies of Brazil, Amazonia, and Paraguay. Third, Dot Tuer examines the construction of colonial ideology through rhetorical and ethnographic writings on indigeneity, comparing three key intersectional sites between the history of Canada and Argentina from the 1500s to the early 1800s to analyze how the colonial configuration of "Indians" gives rise to the racialized framing of indigenous peoples as outside of yet essential to the formation of the nation-state. Finally, Nancy van Deusen challenges the narrative of indigenous slaves as historical outliners, showing instead that a view from the so-called margins actually sharpens our understanding of the institution and practice of Indian slavery, and its reliance on and shaping of local native and Euro-American systems, and of global networks.

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