Geopolitical Literacies in British North America

Saturday, January 5, 2019: 10:30 AM
Salon 10 (Palmer House Hilton)
Jacqueline Reynoso, California State University, Channel Islands
In 1763, during the peace negotiations that formally concluded the Seven Years' War, European diplomats redrew imperial boundaries that cut across much of colonial America. With what Francis Parkman once described as "the scratch of a pen," France lost the entirety of its continental North American empire, ceding much of its holdings to Britain. These geopolitical shifts quickly became the subject of many an imperial map drawn in the wake of the war, as cartographic texts became a key medium through which imperial agents negotiated the meaning of their vastly expanded empire. Yet, both the mapmakers themselves and the texts they produced privileged a broader imperial project that sought to present British America as an extension of a vast, cohesive, and powerful global empire. They paid little mind to what these altered boundaries meant to the inhabitants who navigated these territories, whether they were colonial subjects or Native peoples.

In an effort to recover the vernacular geographies so often obscured in imperial maps, this paper makes use of manuscript and printed sources to trace the spatial practices by which colonial British Americans incorporated new territories into their own lived and imagined geographies. In doing so, it sheds light on subtle but meaningful connections that British colonists forged between their communities elsewhere on the continent and the newly-designated British province of Quebec. Ultimately, these spatial practices allow us to recover the often-overlooked place of Quebec in the struggle for American independence.

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