Coll ThrushNov 23, 2016
Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire
Yale University Press 2016
Coll Thrush's new book is an imaginative and beautifully-written history of London framed by the experiences of indigenous travelers since early modernity. Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire (Yale University Press, 2016) brings together urban and indigenous histories, arguing that indigenous people around the world have actively engaged with and helped create the world we call modern, including its great urban centers. The book is organized around domains of entanglement, with each chapter following a particular set of travelers to explore a particular way that urban and Indigenous histories are linked: knowledge, disorder, reason, ritual, discipline, memory. Interspersed with these chapters are free-verse poetical interludes that weave archival fragments and Thrush's own writerly voice together in stories of particular objects that mark the book's journey: a mirror, a debtors' petition, a pair of statues, a lost museum, a hat factory, a notebook. It is a thoughtful, compelling account that will be of interest to a wide range of readers interested in indigenous studies, urban history, early modern history, and London itself. An appendix on Self-Guided Encounters with Indigenous London helps readers use the book as a kind of travel guide to help activate the history of Indigenous London into shaping explorations of the city today.