Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire
Yale University Press 2016
New Books in British StudiesNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Native American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network November 18, 2016 Jeremy Wood
Scholars have long treated cities as spaces in which indigenous people have little presence and less significance. This notion that urbanity and indignity stand at odds results from a potent mix of racist essentialism and the historical myth of progress from savagery to civilization. Just as this paradigm excludes native peoples from the City, it excludes them from modernity.
Perhaps no city expresses this erasure of Indigenous bodies, minds, and histories so effectively as London, the capital of the British Empire. Yet as Dr. Coll Thrush demonstrates in his new book Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire (Yale University Press, 2016), beneath this erasure lie centuries of indigenous experience.
In his hands London becomes not merely the Heart of Empire but the periphery of a richly textured indigenous diaspora, a Red Atlantic. Dr. Thrush ambitiously recasts five centuries of London’s history through the lived experiences of native visitors from Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. These travelers were royal statesmen and diplomats, missionaries and athletes. They came to further the complex interests of their own Nations. They critiqued the metropolis’s excess, its ecological unsustainability, and its inhumanity towards the poor.
In doing so, they participated in creating London’s present. Their impact remains in London’s material culture and its understanding of its own urban and suburban realities. Join us as Dr. Thrush invites us into an Indigenous London that is not so much hidden as deliberately silenced, and which courses throughout the fabric of the modern city.
Jeremy Wood is a Seattle attorney. Much of his legal and scholarly work has concerned Native American interests. Additionally he serves as a Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Seattle and teaches Jewish literature to middle and high school students in an after school program. You can find out more about his work by visiting https://www.linkedin.com/in/
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