Wild by nature [electronic resource] : North American animals confront colonization / Andrea L. Smalley
- Smalley, Andrea L., 1960-
- Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017.
- Physical Description:
- x, 334 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
- Restrictions on Access:
- License restrictions may limit access.
- "From the time Europeans first came to the New World until the closing of the frontier, the benefits of abundant wild animals--from beavers and wolves to fish, deer, and bison--appeared as a recurring theme in colonizing discourses. Explorers, travelers, surveyors, naturalists, and other promoters routinely advertised the richness of the American faunal environment and speculated about the ways in which animals could be made to serve their colonial projects. In practice, however, American animals proved far less malleable to colonizers' designs. Their behaviors constrained an English colonial vision of a reinvented and rationalized American landscape. In Wild by Nature, Andrea L. Smalley argues that Anglo-American authorities' unceasing efforts to convert indigenous beasts into colonized creatures frequently produced unsettling results that threatened colonizers' control over the land and the people. Not simply acted upon by being commodified, harvested, and exterminated, wild animals were active subjects in the colonial story, altering its outcome in unanticipated ways. These creatures became legal actors--subjects of statutes, issues in court cases, and parties to treaties--in a centuries-long colonizing process that was reenacted on successive wild animal frontiers. Following a trail of human-animal encounters from the seventeenth-century Chesapeake to the Civil War-era southern plains, Smalley shows how wild beasts and their human pursuers repeatedly transgressed the lines lawmakers drew to demarcate colonial sovereignty and control, confounding attempts to enclose both people and animals inside a legal frame. She also explores how, to possess the land, colonizers had to find new ways to contain animals without destroying the wildness that made those creatures valuable to English settler societies in the first place. Offering fresh perspectives on colonial, legal, environmental, and Native American history, Wild by Nature reenvisions the familiar stories of early America as animal tales"--
"Wild by Nature answers the question: how did indigenous animals shape the course of colonization in English America? The book argues that animals acted as obstacles to colonization because their wildness was at odds with Anglo-American legal assertions of possession. Animals and their pursuers transgressed the legal lines officials drew to demarcate colonizers' sovereignty and control over the landscape. Consequently, wild creatures became legal actors in the colonizing process--the subjects of statutes, the issues in court cases, and the parties to treaties--as authorities struggled to both contain and preserve the wildness that made those animals so valuable to English settler societies in North America in the first place. Only after wild creatures were brought under the state's legal ownership and control could the land be rationally organized and possessed. The book examines the colonization of American animals as a separate strand interwoven into a larger story of English colonizing in North America. As such, it proceeds along a different and longer timeline than other colonial histories, tracing a path through various wild animal frontiers from the seventeenth-century Chesapeake into the southern backcountry in the eighteenth century and across the Appalachians in the early nineteenth to end in the southern plains in the decades after the Civil War. Along the way, it maps out an argumentative arc that describes three manifestations of colonization as it variously applied to beavers, wolves, fish, deer, and bison. Wild by Nature engages broad questions about the environment, law, and society in early America"--
- 9781421422350 (hardback)
- Bibliography Note:
- Includes bibliographical references (pages 239-324) and index.
View MARC record | catkey: 32172398