By James Axtell
During this provocative and well timed choice of essays--five released for the 1st time--one of an important ethnohistorians writing at the present time, James Axtell, explores the major function of mind's eye either in our belief of strangers and within the writing of heritage. Coinciding with the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus's "discovery" of the US, this assortment covers quite a lot of subject matters facing American historical past. 3 essays view the invasion of North the United States from the viewpoint of the Indians, whose land it was once. the first actual conferences, he unearths, have been almost always peaceable. different essays describe local encounters with colonial traders--creating "the first shopper revolution"--and Jesuit missionaries in Canada and Mexico. regardless of the tragedy of a few of the encounters, Axtell additionally unearths that there has been a lot humor in Indian-European negotiations over peace, intercourse, and battle. within the ultimate part he conducts looking out analyses of ways collage textbooks deal with the preliminary century of yank heritage, how America's human face replaced from all brown in 1492 to predominantly white and black via 1792, and the way we dealt with ethical questions through the Quincentenary. He concludes with an intensive evaluation of the Quincentenary scholarship--books, motion pictures, television, and museum exhibits--and feedback for the way we will be able to assimilate what now we have learned.
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Extra info for Beyond 1492: Encounters in Colonial North America
This is depressing, but right. "33 Somewhere along the way in our historical educations, HISTORY AS IMAGINATION 19 usually too late to prevent a good deal of mental mischief, we learn that history is not only a collection of hard facts but a congeries of soft interpretations. For many students this revelation can be disturbing because it seems to threaten the cool objectivity and calm authority of their textbooks. But for neophyte historians it gives the subject a new lease on life and introduces them to the humane and imaginative possibilities of the discipline.
Entirely personal and individual, the second record is everything [the historian] can bring to bear on the record of the past in order to elicit . . the best account he can render of what he believes actually happened in the past. 17 Paul Horgan said much the same: "The historian's sense of actuality is achieved by a feeling for humanity which has been finely honed from the very beginning of his studies, indeed of his independent life as a sentient human beinging. . ,"18 It is no coincidence that the historian's penetration of the foreignness of the past bears an uncanny resemblance to the anthropologist's imaginative entry into other cultures and to the novelist's forging of historically plausible though ultimately imaginary worlds and populations.
While Europeans found "others" to be different and usually inferior, the "others" the Indians knew tended to be similar or I M A G I N I N G THE OTHER 33 superior. This is not to say that Indian cultures were blessedly lacking in ethnocentrism: they were as hide-bound as the next group. But their human experience was limited solely to other Indian peoples, so their ethnographic categories appear to have been relatively few, perhaps some variation on three. The Indians' first category consisted of their own immediate social group, whether band, tribe, chiefdom, or confederacy.
Beyond 1492: Encounters in Colonial North America by James Axtell