Brothers among Nations is a book about cooperation between people of different cultures. In seventeenth-century European terms, this is a study of common efforts between people of various nations. But because such work was often fragile and the road toward it frequently paved with prejudice and misunderstanding, conflict is also an integral part of the story. Violence and apparent betrayals were often sparked by the breakdown of previous efforts at collaboration. People of different cultures seldom understood one another fully—and rarely wanted to—but they often needed to rely on one another. In the space between the interdependence born of necessity and the suspicion and hatred born of ethnocentrism, Europeans, Native Americans, and diaspora Africans created a world of international alliances. They did so in part by mapping one another, marking the boundaries of cultures, spaces, and worldviews. This book explores early modern peoples' pursuit of intercultural partnerships by focusing on the ways in which they used maps to bridge cultures and in which early moderns mapped peoples, as well as lands and waterways.
In exploring the cultural history of interactions between colonizers and colonized in North America, Brothers among Nations challenges our current understanding of each category. In geographical and temporal range, it focuses on the Atlantic seaboard from the Chesapeake Bay region to New England in the years from 1580 to 1660. These were the first eighty years of European efforts to colonize these regions, and the period is remarkable for the scope and degree of cultural and political experimentation people attempted. Brothers among Nations highlights the importance of the fluidity inherent in this era