The Red Atlantic
American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927
University of North Carolina Press 2014
For all the incisive work published in Native American and Indigenous studies over the past decades, troubling historical myths still circulate in both academic and popular discourse. One of the most persistent is how we tell the story of the Atlantic world as a set of unidirectional processes dominated by Europeans and populated by enslaved Africans, neatly summarized in those triangle-trade illustrations we all studied in high school history class. Paul Gilroy’s seminal work The Black Atlantic opened fresh scholarly ground, conceptualizing the Atlantic world as a cosmopolitan space of cultural exchange and alternative modernities. But for all its originality and profound importance, Gilroy remained entrenched in a black-white dyad; Indigenous people of the Americas were almost entirely ignored.
Enter Jace Weaver, Franklin Professor and Director of the Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia (and a former guest on this program), and his new book The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927 (University of North Carolina Press, 2014). In this sweeping and skillful book of synthesis, analysis, and original research, Weaver places Indigenous people at the heart of the Atlantic world. Native people, their ideas, their culture, their products, and their labor traversed the Atlantic in staggering numbers, reconfiguring destinies on both sides of the great ocean. Much like Gilroy, Weaver’s new paradigm is sure to launch numerous further studies.