Synopses & Reviews
This work of comparative history explores the array of ceremonies that the English, the Spanish, the French, the Portuguese and the Dutch performed to enact their taking possession of the New World. The book develops the historic cultural contexts of these ceremonies, and tackles the implications of these histories for contemporary nation-states of the post-colonial era.
"...Seed shows herself to be resourceful and creative, crafting a vessel capable of holding a heady swirl of disparate documentation within a cohesive whole." H-Net"The provocative thesis of Ceremonies of Possession, based on research in a dazzling variety of sources and languages, will challenge scholars to fresh examination of colonial foundations. No one interested in the early modern period can afford to neglect this book." Karen Ordahl Kupperman, New York University"Patricia Seed offers the most convincing alternative to a model of one-directional flow from Europe into the New World. Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World, 1492-1640 examines the various strategies and ceremonies that the European colonizing powers used to confirm their control over New World possessions. She illustrates both the actions performed by, and the cultural histories that influenced 'ceremonies of possession' conducted by, the major colonizing nations--England, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands....Seed offers convincing cultural readings of the various ceremonies on which the distinct powers relied." William and Mary Quarterly"The details of Seed's heroic research are fascinating and the delineation of cultural differences utterly convincing....[P]rovides a powerful perspective for linking the histories of early modern Europe and the newly colonized Americas as consisting of more than just the exchange of smallpox for syphilis or wheat for corn." Charles L. Cohen, Sixteenth Century Journal"...her committment to comparative history will inspire others to follow in her footsteps. Her work is to be applauded." Richard C. Trexler, Journal of Social History
This work of comparative history explores the array of ceremonies that Europeans performed to enact their taking possession of the New World. Frenchmen reproduced the grandeur of royal processions wherever possible, always ending in dialogue with the indigenous peoples. Spaniards made solemn speeches before launching military attacks. Dutchmen drew intensely detailed maps, scrutinizing harbors and coastlines as they disembarked. The Portuguese superimposed the grid of latitudes upon lands they were later to take by the sword. The English calmly laid out fences and hedges in the manner of their native shires. Through such activities each power considered itself to be creating imperial authority over the Americas; yet each failed to acknowledge the same significance in the ceremonies of other powers. This book develops the historic cultural contexts of these ceremonies and tackles the implications of these histories for contemporary nation-states of the postcolonial era.
Table of Contents
Introduction; 1. Houses, gardens, and fences: signs of English possession in the New World; 2. Ceremonies: the theatrical rituals of French political possession; 3. The requirement: a protocol for conquest; 4. 'A New Sky and New Stars': Arabic and Hebrew science, Portuguese seamanship, and the discovery of America; 5. Sailing in the wake of the Portuguese; Conclusion: The habits of history.