The Northeast Woodlands Fur Trade and Indigenous ‘Economies of Affect’

Author(s): John L. Creese

Year: 2013


This paper considers the sources of demand for European-manufactured goods among the Native American societies of the Northeast Woodlands in the early seventeenth century.  I propose that among the Wendat-Tionnantate and Attiwandaron societies of southern Ontario, objects perceived to be potent – including many obtained from European sources – fed into local ‘economies of affect’.  These systems involved characteristic cycles of ritual exchange focussed on the accumulation and enchainment of bodies and belongings.  Their social efficacy depended on ‘emotion-work’ accomplished by the iterative bundling and fragmentation of highly affective, inalienable objects.  Exchange with Europeans, however, required that alienable objects obtained in trade be materially transformed into inalienable ones appropriate to the demands of this 'economy of affect'.  Certain media, such as wampum and glass beads, were particularly suited to accomplishing this transformation, and were therefore crucial ‘switchers’ that linked local and global economies in the early seventeenth-century Northeast.

Cite this Record

The Northeast Woodlands Fur Trade and Indigenous ‘Economies of Affect’. John L. Creese. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428338)

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Affect Fur Trade Wendat

Geographic Keywords
United Kingdom Western Europe

Temporal Keywords
AD 1550-1650

Spatial Coverage

min long: -8.158; min lat: 49.955 ; max long: 1.749; max lat: 60.722 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 579