The Native Pathways of Colonial Contacts: Kinship, Alliances, and Gender in the Early Modern Americas

AHA Session 266
Conference on Latin American History 63
Monday, January 6, 2020: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
Gramercy (Sheraton New York, Lower Level)
Brett Rushforth, University of Oregon

Session Abstract

During the early modern period, Europeans navigated the American territories using routes and networks established with the help of and facilitated by the Native peoples. This dynamic was especially important in regions characterized by a lack of centralized political power, where neither European nor indigenous groups had a firm control of the territory. The members of colonial societies inhabiting the borderlands of European empires interacted with the neighboring native peoples in myriad ways: from marrying into native families, to living among them as captives, to establishing close trading relationships and alliances. The autonomous native peoples also maintained multiple approaches, including raids, sending spies, establishing alliances, providing labor, settling into missions but maintaining contact with the autonomous kin, effectively controlling the degree of interaction with Europeans to maintain their autonomy. This panel aims to connect research across the Americas and explore how these networks of exchange along indigenous pathways worked in different regions located at the edges of the Spanish, Portuguese and French empires. The participants of this panel will explore the borderlands of the River Plate, Brazil, the Guianas and the American South West, taking an interdisciplinary approach incorporating archaeological and anthropological research to establish connections and highlight continuities and changes between roughly 1200 and 1800. Ultimately, this panel aims to promote discussions between the panelists, chair and audience comparing the different regions, strategies and outcomes for Indigenous and Europeans actors.
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