Title

Introduction: Empire, indigeneity, revolution

Publication Date

2018

Abstract

The late eighteenth century is often depicted as a Revolutionary Age because of the intense political struggles that took place in Europe, Asia and the Americas. But another revolutionary dimension of this era was the profound acceleration in encounters and contacts between new peoples around the globe. As historian C.A. Bayly has noted, European imperial expansion was one of the main drivers of this phenomenon, but so too were indigenous peoples, especially in thickening and complicating relations between different societies. While many scholars have looked at this era of expanding imperialism and noted its links with globalisation, they have usually done so from European perspectives. Even as an increasing number of historians recognise the crucial roles indigenous people played in this process, few have tried to think comparatively about indigenous experiences within and across expanding imperial borders over the course of this revolutionary era. The result is that too often when thinking comparatively or transnationally, indigenous peoples become distant and passive players in a largely European-driven game. Granted, one reason for the scholarly neglect has been a reluctance to perpetuate the European framing that such work must entail: to place indigenous peoples from vastly different spaces into historical relation is to give some special privilege to the European empires that encountered them separately. Yet this reluctance has also come at a cost: it has missed an opportunity to understand how indigenous people in this period shared some common means of accommodating, repelling, complicating and even ignoring the European encounter. In doing so, they shaped and influenced the modern world in significant ways.

School/Institute

Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences

Document Type

Book Chapter

Access Rights

ERA Access

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