About the author: Melanie Perreault received her B.A. in history from Lawrence University in 1990, and a PhD in Colonial American History from The College of William and Mary in 1997. She is currently an assistant professor of history at Salisbury University in Maryland, where she taches courses on Chesapeake History and the Atlantic World.2004 0-7734-6412-3
In recent years, the field of comparative study has enjoyed a resurgence of attention as scholars attempt to understand the past in a global context. For scholars interested in early American history, the new emphasis on the connections throughout the Atlantic has been particularly rewarding. This book offers a different approach to the study of the Atlantic World, one that strikes a balance between the ability of a grand thesis to allow broad generalizations and comparisons, and the ability of more focused studies to provide detail. Through this comparative study, the author argues that the English participants in first contact attempted to assert their control over the natives of region by placing them into categories that were both recognizable and inferior, using ideas of class and gender hierarchies. The native peoples were not quick to give up their sources of power, however, and were often able to assert their own control over the situation. The disjuncture between English literary pretensions to superiority and their actual dependence on native peoples led to increasing friction and ultimately, violence. This study makes important contributions to the study of race, class, and gender in the Atlantic World on the eve of colonization.