wayne e. lee edits empire and indigenes; reviewed in h-net

25Jul12

Wayne E. Lee (ed.), Empires and Indigenes: Intercultural Alliance, Imperial Expansion, and Warfare in the Early Modern World (NYU Press, 2011).

 The early modern period (c. 1500–1800) of world history is characterized by the establishment and aggressive expansion of European empires, and warfare between imperial powers and indigenous peoples was a central component of the quest for global dominance. From the Portuguese in Africa to the Russians and Ottomans in Central Asia, empire builders could not avoid military interactions with native populations, and many discovered that imperial expansion was impossible without the cooperation, and, in some cases, alliances with the natives they encountered in the new worlds they sought to rule.

Empires and Indigenes is a sweeping examination of how intercultural interactions between Europeans and indigenous people influenced military choices and strategic action. Ranging from the Muscovites on the western steppe to the French and English in North America, it analyzes how diplomatic and military systems were designed to accommodate the demands and expectations of local peoples, who aided the imperial powers even as they often became subordinated to them. Contributors take on the analytical problem from a variety of levels, from the detailed case studies of the different ways indigenous peoples could be employed, to more comprehensive syntheses and theoretical examinations of diplomatic processes, ethnic soldier mobilization, and the interaction of culture and military technology.

TOC here.

H-net review, Jon Parmenter (Cornell University), here. Snippet:

This volume offers a fertile array of essays exploring the mechanisms and implications of imperial projections of power in the early modern world. Six of the nine contributions relate directly to the Atlantic context, but each in its own way will benefit all historians of early modernity. Atlantic specialists will gain crucial comparative insight into two key phenomena of relevance to their interests, one relatively predictable, the other much less so. First, the significance of “ocean lift capacity,” or the ability to move troops and weapons safely within and between colonies and the metropole, for projecting power abroad receives careful examination in essays by Wayne Lee on North America, Douglas Peers on British India, and Marjoleine Kars on Dutch Berbice (p. 94). Second, and of concern to all authors in the volume, is the degree to which the historical trajectories of overseas empires depended on local indigenous contexts. No recent study does more than this important collection to reexamine the multifaceted inputs of indigenous populations as military allies, trading partners, opponents, and collaborators into the more familiar story of early modern Atlantic/global expansion. 



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