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Facing Empire

, 376 pages

7 b&w illus., 2 maps

September 2018



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Facing Empire

Indigenous Experiences in a Revolutionary Age


The contributors to Facing Empire reimagine the Age of Revolution from the perspective of indigenous peoples. Rather than treating indigenous peoples as distant and passive players in the political struggles of the time, this book argues that they helped create and exploit the volatility that marked an era while playing a central role in the profound acceleration in encounters and contacts between peoples around the world.

Focusing in particular on indigenous peoples’ experiences of the British Empire, this volume takes a unique comparative approach in thinking about how indigenous peoples shaped, influenced, redirected, ignored, and sometimes even forced the course of modern imperialism. The essays demonstrate how indigenous-shaped local exchanges, cultural relations, and warfare provoked discussion and policymaking in London as much as it did in Charleston, Cape Town, or Sydney.

Facing Empire charts a fresh way forward for historians of empire, indigenous studies, and the Age of Revolution and shows why scholars can no longer continue to exclude indigenous peoples from histories of the modern world. These past conflicts over land and water, labor and resources, and hearts and minds have left a living legacy of contested relations that continue to resonate in contemporary politics and societies today. Covering the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia, and West and South Africa, as well as North America, this book looks at the often misrepresented and underrepresented complexity of the indigenous experience on a global scale.

Contributors: Tony Ballantyne, Justin Brooks, Colin G. Calloway, Kate Fullagar, Bill Gammage, Robert Kenny, Shino Konishi, Elspeth Martini, Michael A. McDonnell, Jennifer Newell, Joshua L. Reid, Daniel K. Richter, Rebecca Shumway, Sujit Sivasundaram, Nicole Ulrich

Kate Fullagar is a senior lecturer in modern history at Macquarie University. She is the author of The Savage Visit: New World People and Popular Imperial Culture in Britain, 1710–1795. Michael A. McDonnell is a professor of history at the University of Sydney. He is the author of Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America.

"A new, compelling, and important examination of the British Empire from the perspectives of the colonized during the transitional period of 1760 to 1840. Demonstrating that themes of indigeneity might well stretch beyond the conventional reaches of the burgeoning field of indigenous studies, Facing Empire will help set the agenda for future research."

"I am tremendously impressed by this collection. Not only have the editors assembled a very fine array of scholars at varying career stages, all of whom have produced first-class studies attuned to the objectives of the volume, but they have also carefully and helpfully drawn together the major themes articulated across the chapters."

"This wonderful collection of essays profoundly alters the way in which historians view indigenous history, the British Empire, and the Age of Revolution. The authors focus on indigenous perspectives and experiences across an extraordinarily diverse range of contexts, showing how they shaped ideologies and practices of imperial expansion and created new transnational patterns of resistance, exchange, and communication."

"Facing Empire is a major scholarly accomplishment. Michael A. McDonnell and Kate Fullager have woven together a diverse range of essays in a volume that is striking for its clarity and persuasiveness. Taken as a whole, Facing Empire advances our understanding of transnational and comparative indigenous histories in original and important ways."

"This landmark collection explores the many faces of empire as they were turned towards Indigenous people: this stellar cast of scholars offers fresh insights and perspectives that provide an exciting challenge to the ‘new imperial history.’"

"By placing American Indians, Māori, Polynesians, Asians, Xhosas, and other indigenous peoples in the same frame, this stunning volume charts a new vision for indigenous history, the Age of Revolutions, the history of the British Empire, and the history of colonialism. It is hard to think of another collection that has done so much to boost the emerging field of global indigenous history."

"Scholarship on the 'age of revolution' has long had a heart of darkness: indigenous peoples have usually been excluded in the histories of this great moment of transformation. Glowing torches in hand, Kate Fullagar, Michael A. McDonnell, and their talented colleagues brilliantly illuminate a revolutionary epoch with a new global 'history from below.'"

"This wonderfully rich and diverse collection, featuring contributions from world-leading scholars, traces a myriad of connections, comparisons, and echoes between far-flung Indigenous experiences during the 'imperial meridian' of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These essays place Indigenous people at the heart of the Age of Revolution, forcing us to ask new questions about empire, 'progress,' and the creation of the modern world."

"A rich and valuable collection of essays demonstrating that comparing Indigenous entanglements with empire during the Age of Revolution has the potential to transform our understanding of Indigenous people, the empires they dealt with, and the revolutionary age that they shared. This volume will attract a wide and appreciative readership."

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