Manual Beyond the Frontier: Explorations in Ethnohistory

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Australia -- Historiography. Contents Ethnohistory in perspective The degree of settlement permanence and sedentism in some traditional Aboriginal societies in Australia and its implications The world's oldest ceremonial object? Hunting Genyornis: ethnographic and ethnogenic evidence for the co-existence of humans and megafauna in Australia The first wave to Australia. Notes Includes bibliographical references. Also available in electronic version via the Internet. Dewey Number View online Borrow Buy Freely available Show 0 more links Set up My libraries How do I set up "My libraries"?

The Politics of Lineage: Caste, Kinship and Land Control in an Agrarian Frontier

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Tags What are tags? Add a tag. Theories of Native inferiority in mind and body provided Europeans, simultaneously, a compelling claim to the land and reassurance that colonists would not degenerate in an alien environment. By the early 18th century, however, ascendant philosophical frameworks encouraged the learned to view minds, bodies, and societies as mutable.

Comparisons of contemporary Indians to ancient peoples in the work of Acosta, Lafitau, and others converged with political theorization on the historical development of property and the interrelationship of environment, laws, and customs in the work of scholars such as Samuel Pufendorf and Montesquieu, as well as the psychology of John Locke, which held that the mind possessed no innate ideas and that words were merely conventional labels for things and concepts, to provide the foundation for theories of the progress of civilization.

One view, best represented by Etienne Bonnot de Condillac, held that human advancement came from linguistic and mental refinement. Over time, the invention of new and more precise signs allowed for more analytical thinking and, thus, advancement in the arts and sciences, though precision came at the price of imagery in speech and writing.

Another view, best represented by Adam Smith, stressed the appetites and passions over reason.

Manual Beyond the Frontier: Explorations in Ethnohistory

Distinct modes of subsistence hunting, shepherding, agriculture, and commerce led to distinct forms of social organization. Progress came from increasing production and mastery over nature, which, in turn, increased specialization within societies and the transfer of knowledge among societies. Innumerable and occasionally contradictory ethnographic accounts from throughout the Americas, in turn, provided evidence for these theories.

Slavery was ubiquitous in the early modern world and, emerging from Muslim and Iberian Christian precedents, Africans were commonly assumed to be slaves. While enslavement of Indians, considered vassals of the Spanish crown, was illegal by the midth century, Africans were legally enslaved in the colonies, just as they had been in Spain and Portugal in the centuries preceding colonization of the Americas.

Iberians and other Europeans found justification in religion. Missionaries frequently compared African slaves willing to accept Christianity favorably to Natives who spurned the gospel.

Because heathenism was crucial to the initial enslavement of Africans, however, planters often resisted evangelization. Colonial laws endowed shifting lines of difference with legal force. Unlike in the Iberian kingdoms, slavery no longer existed as an institution in early modern England. The first slaves held in the English colonies were stolen as slaves or bought as slaves. Initially, English colonial slavery followed Spanish and Portuguese models, which included hard, forced labor, but also significant degrees of manumission, incorporation into church and society, and intermixture.

The blurring of the line between Christian and heathen, and growing numbers of freed people and children with mixed ancestry, however, prodded Englishmen to codify the lines of slavery and freedom. This process began in the Caribbean, with Barbadians making the bondage of Africans perpetual by , but the way in which slavery became racialized may be clearest in the Chesapeake. Between and , Virginia passed a series of laws that originally distinguished between Christian and heathen, freeman and servant, but which came to distinguish between whites and negroes and mulattoes. The French created an analogous Code noir in the Caribbean in and Louisiana in African difference was defined through print culture as well. Prevailing medical views held Negroes to be more resistant to tropical diseases than Europeans, who were perhaps unsuited to the torrid zone. The success of smallpox inoculation—the subject of public controversy early in the 18th century—which underlined the shared bodily constitutions of Africans and Europeans, did nothing to alter notions of African fitness for labor in torrid climes. In advertisements for runaway slaves, colonists found continuous commentary on the traits of slaves, which described individuals with distinct bodies, skills, and styles, yet which painted a near-uniform picture of slaves as unfaithful and rebellious.

Other newspaper advertisements provide implicit evidence of the casual breaking apart of black families even without economic motivation. While descriptions of African women often echoed those of American Indian women regarding ostensible promiscuity and painless childbirth, African women were more frequently cast in monstrous terms. Most Europeans focused their attention on complexion. European discovery of the Americas, however, undermined this theory.

Those who inhabited its equatorial regions did not resemble those living in the corresponding regions of Africa, American Indian complexions did not vary by latitude, and Africans transported to other regions in the transatlantic slave trade did not change in appearance.

Complexion, however, seemed unstable. Crowds came out to view the corpses of two men convicted of conspiring to burn New York City in when word spread that the black man was turning white and the white man black. Among colonists curious about a spectacle and increasingly interested in questions of color and character, albino children born of black parents caused a sensation, as did those whose blackness seemed to disappear. While George-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon argued that the case of the Cartagena slave Marie Sabine indicated the degenerative effects of an unhealthy American climate, Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis, suggested that if such a man and woman had children, they might produce a new race.

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Early dissections had found a lower layer of white skin and an outer layer of black skin, which were interpreted as confirmation of the ancient association of blackness with tropical heat. In , however, Marcello Malpighi identified a distinct anatomical feature found only among those with dark skin. Blistering black skin with chemicals and examining specimens beneath a microscope, Malpighi identified an intermediate third layer of skin containing pigment, the rete muscosum. Other anatomists focused their attention on even more interior portions of black bodies.

Syllabus for a Progressive Environmental Anthropology

While anatomists formulated these theories as alternatives to humoral or environmentalist explanations, many simply drew upon a range of views syncretically to understand African difference. Such theories were crucial as Europeans debated African capabilities. Colonials also played prominent roles in these debates, not only as scholars but also as examples of the abilities of people of African descent. The poetry, letters, and antislavery tracts of Phyllis Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho, and Olaudah Equiano carried this significance.

Francis Williams, the youngest son of free black Jamaicans, was made the subject of a social experiment to determine whether a black man might be cultivated as a gentleman. The title of a book by the antislavery race theorist Charles White expressed similar views far more succinctly: An Account of the Regular Gradation in Man Ideas of cultural and physical difference frequently intertwined with ideas of descent and heredity in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Theories were innumerable: the Indians were the inhabitants of Atlantis, or Phoenicians, or Welsh. These two theories were not incompatible since the Lost Tribes might have followed just such a path over many generations. By the 17th century, other writers theorized that diverse old world nations had populated the supposedly new world, a theory especially congenial as the tremendous ethnic diversity of the Americas became increasingly apparent.

The Bible provided a framework for understanding other questions as well. Such ideas had been crucial in the Iberian Reconquista , when subjects with Muslim or Jewish forbears were considered to possess irrevocably tainted ancestries, and Spaniards embraced their ancestry in opposition to charges of degeneration in the American environment.

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Although the Spanish Crown initially considered Indian converts to possess potential purity of blood, a legal system of classification according to Spanish, Indian, or African descent, or degree of mixed descent, arose as intermarriage increased. Spanish policies encouraged the production of genealogies among those of European and Indian descent as a means to prove the possession of legal privileges. The Spanish imposed a similar system on New Orleans after , though substantial numbers of blancos continued to form families with free women of color.

In the second half of the 18th century, a new genre of painting emerged that divided the population into categories usually sixteen by depicting a mother of one race or racial intermixture, a father of another race or racial intermixture, and the child they would produce.

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At a time when colonial mestizaje came under increasing fire from Spain and from creoles as a mark of social degeneration and political disorder, these casta paintings provided positive and negative representations of intermixture. Racial categories, however, despite attempts to fix them in nomenclature, remained porous.

In New France, as in New Spain, notions of purity of blood intertwined with religion and social rank. By the late 17th century, imperial officials were divided over the propriety of intermarriage, and by the 18th century the failures of francisation gave rise to speculations about the inherent difference of Indians. Yet the lives of individuals such as Jean Saguingouara, son of a French officer and a Catholic Illinois woman, demonstrate a continued porousness of boundaries. His contract as a fur trader included a provision for the laundering of his shirts, which suggests his acceptance of European rather than Native notions of cleanliness fresh linen as opposed to washing , and the degree to which racial conceptions rested in part upon uses of material culture.

Interestingly, even as laws throughout the French Atlantic prohibited interracial marriage, examples from Haiti demonstrate a stunning attempt not to catalog intermixture, but to manufacture it. Although English colonial laws did not prohibit Anglo-Indian intermarriage, unlike the earlier prohibition of intermarriage in Ireland, legitimate marriages were rare, mainly confined to those few instances in which Native women had converted to Christianity such as the celebrated marriage between John Rolfe and Rebecca, the baptismal name of Pocahontas or Metoaka.

Sexual relationships continued, of course, but these were illicit. This was especially true for Native—black unions, the progeny of which were often categorized as black or as people of color. English colonies and later U. Racial categories in the English colonies and early United States were bounded more sharply, with fewer intermediate gradations, than in the French and Spanish colonies. Carolus Linneaus provided more influential classifications that grouped human beings with other primates and divided them from one another in successive editions of Systema naturae , beginning in Linnaeus established six distinct varieties of homo sapiens , grouped according to characteristics, complexion, and continent, adding unspeaking wild men and monstrous peoples including pygmies in Africa, supposed giants in Patagonia, and Indians who flattened the heads of infants to sanguine and inventive white Europeans; lazy, careless, and cunning black Africans; melancholy, haughty, and tradition-bound yellow Asians; and red warlike Indians who lived by habit.

Other scholars practiced natural history while insisting on the gulf that separated humanity from beasts. Buffon counted six races discarding monsters and wild men , while acknowledging individual diversity within races and stressing that environmental influences associated with human migration would produce degeneration over time and place.