Advancing Frontiers in the 21st century: Reconsidering Colonial Encounters in the Atlantic World

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

This session takes as its point of departure the conference theme, "Advancing Frontiers," a phrase inviting archaeologists to imagine the nature of our research in 50 years. It may also be a play on the discipline's first 50 years, which drew on the notion of the "frontier" as a framework for documenting and interpreting colonial encounters. This framework soon came under fire as one that reproduced rather than challenged colonial relations, in the past and in the present. In this session, authors build on these critiques through the lens of postcolonial theory, rethinking frontiers as locally constituted by specific spatial, material, discursive, and representational practices, while defined broadly by fluidity, violence, and conflicting visions of the post-frontier future.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-9 of 9)

  • Documents (9)

  • Charting Intention: Place and Power on Virginia’s Earliest Maps (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jamie E. May.

    Nothing makes the intentions and aspirations of a colonizing enterprise more apparent than the maps and charts of the spaces they seek to control, particularly their choices of which geographic and cultural features to represent or assign the power of a name. Because of the obvious value as primary documents, a small handful of maps relating to Virginia in the early contact period are used by historians, anthropologists and archaeologists to place and interpret sites and features on the...

  • Erasing Religious Boundaries in a Frontier South Carolina Parish (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kimberly Pyszka.

    Although founded as a religiously tolerant colony, early colonial South Carolina was deeply divided between Anglicans who fought to establish the Church of England and dissenters who opposed it. In 1706, the Church of England did become the official established religion of the colony, yet tensions continued. However, these religious differences were less important in the colony’s southern frontier parishes where white settlers had other concerns, namely from neighboring Native American...

  • Fears, Frontiers, and Third Spaces: Rethinking Colonial Encounters in the Early Modern British Atlantic (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Audrey Horning.

    The concept of the frontier is often understood to be by definition one sided- one group’s frontier is of course another’s homeland. The idea of the frontier is thus the sign of a failed imagination; a mote in the eye blocking perspective. But the notion of a frontier can also convey liminality and lawlessness, a place apart from rules and regulations, laws and orders. If there is any truth in this construction, then frontiers might also be understood as third spaces. In this paper I will...

  • Go-Betweens, Transculturation, and the Notion of the Frontier in the Potomac River Valley (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Julia King.

    Go-betweens, including translators, traders, diplomats, and other individuals who move between two or more cultures, are often viewed as important and even transforming actors in the colonial encounter. Go-betweens in the early modern Chesapeake are understood as not only moving between two or more cultures but between cultures located at some geographical distance from one another’s territories (in Maryland, Henry Fleet and William Claiborne would be examples). But what about the nature of...

  • Governmentality and the Subtle Quality of Colonial Violence in an Evolving New England Frontier (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Stephen Mrozowski.

    This paper presents a discussion of the often, subtle quality of the legal machinations employed by colonial authorities to dispossess the indigenous groups of New England of their land. Prior to the outbreak of King Philip’s War in 1675, New England’s colonies maintained a civil, but increasingly tense relationship with the indigenous groups of the region. As English population increased tensions grew over land and notions of private property. With the defeat of King Philip’s confederation, the...

  • Life On The Borderlands Of The Colonial Potomac: Exploring Chicacoan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Barbara Heath.

    During the earliest decades of English colonization of the Chesapeake, the Potomac River Valley was a politically complex borderland between the colonies of Virginia and Maryland and Native American tribal groups. Here I trace the origins and development of the historic community of Chicacoan that emerged around 1640, and explore the domestic landscape of its leader, John Mottrom.  Mottrom settled a tract of land on the Coan River, south of the Potomac, which he acquired from the Chicacoan...

  • Moving beyond Cowboys and Indians: Rethinking Colonial Dichotomies into Messy "Frontiers" (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Andrew Agha. Jon Marcoux.

    As part of its etymological "baggage," the term "frontier" evokes thoughts of action and excitement, conquering the unknown, and transforming the untamed and uncivilized into the managed and controlled. In North American colonial contexts this perspective privileges the experiences of European, colonizers at the interpretive expense of the multitude of other social actors (e.g., enslaved Africans, women, Native Americans) whose practices equally constituted the colonial project. In our paper, we...

  • Reconsidering the First Generations of Colonial Encounters in the Lower Delaware Valley of the North American Middle Atlantic (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lu Ann De Cunzo.

    The Middle Atlantic region is drawing renewed interest among historians, especially during the era of first colonial settlement in the 17th century. Some are reassessing the prominent role of the Lenape and Susquehannock peoples in the course and outcomes of the encounters. Others are challenging previous interpretations of the contests among Dutch, Swedish, and English imperial actors for control over this borderland. Although these scholars are rethinking the concept of frontier, the spatial,...

  • Rethinking "Frontiers" from a French Colonial Perspective (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gregory Waselkov.

    A societal "frontier" is always a relational concept. What looks like a periphery, whether imagined as a line or a zone, from one vantage point may from another look like an invaded heartland. The diverse nature of French colonialism in North America suggests the complexity of frontiers it induced. I review my 1981 article, "Frontiers and Archaeology," with perspective gained across thirty-five years, to consider whether the frontier concept has any current utility for the archaeology of French...