Modernity and Its Other: The Encounter with North American Indians in the Eighteenth Century

Modernity and Its Other: The Encounter with North American Indians in the Eighteenth Century

Modernity and Its Other: The Encounter with North American Indians in the Eighteenth Century

Modernity and Its Other: The Encounter with North American Indians in the Eighteenth Century

Synopsis

In Modernity and Its Other Robert Woods Sayre examines eighteenth-century North America through discussion of texts drawn from the period. He focuses on this unique historical moment when early capitalist civilization (modernity) in colonial societies, especially the British, interacted closely with Indigenous communities (the "Other") before the balance of power shifted definitively toward the colonizers.

Sayre considers a variety of French perspectives as a counterpoint to the Anglo-American lens, including J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur and Philip Freneau, as well as both Anglo-American and French or French Canadian travelers in "Indian territory," including William Bartram, Jonathan Carver, John Lawson, Alexander Mackenzie, Baron de Lahontan, Pierre Charlevoix, and Jean-Baptiste Trudeau. Modernity and Its Other is an important addition to any North American historian's bookshelf, for it brings together the social history of the European colonies and the ethnohistory of the American Indian peoples who interacted with the colonizers.

Excerpt

This book was first published in French, in 2008. For the present edition I have translated, revised, and considerably expanded that publication. Sections added to the original work are chapter 3, on Moreau de SaintMéry; chapter 8, on Alexander Mackenzie and Jean-Baptiste Trudeau; and the epilogue, on George Catlin. I am an American who, after university training and initial teaching in the United States, resettled in France, where I have spent the larger part of my career. My research interests and activities over that time have involved in almost equal part French and Anglo-American studies.

In preparing this new, revised edition destined for an American public, I have taken into account important developments and publications in early North American history and ethnohistory that have occurred since the writing of the original French work. I have also engaged with some crucial issues that are part of current American discussions and debates on Native American history. in this regard it seems important to situate my book in the context of these contemporary developments in North American scholarship and reflection.

In the past several decades extraordinarily rich and varied work has been done on all aspects of Native America, both present and historical. This period has seen the rise to prominence of significant numbers of Native American intellectuals and scholars, such as Gerald Vizenor, Robert Warrior, and Donald Fixico. in the ethnohistorical domain, a plethora of writings have appeared that make new departures in a number of respects, building on and in some cases diverging from the equally fruitful, groundbreaking productions of the several decades before that. a new generation of scholars, nonnative as well as native, has tended to shift the focus from Euro-American actions and representations to indigenous agency and . . .

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