Nancy Shoemaker

in A Strange Likeness

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780195167924
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199788996 | DOI:

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Exploring international alliances from another perspective, this chapter analyzes the use of metaphors of gender, sexuality, and kinship in international diplomacy. Soldiers and diplomats, whether Indian or European, used gender to articulate their relationships with other nations. They insulted enemies or peoples they wished to subordinate by calling them “old women” or “eunuchs” and used gendered kin terms to bind nations into alliances framed metaphorically as being between elder brothers and younger brothers, fathers and sons, and in the most famous incidence of gender metaphors in Indian diplomacy, the Delawares-as-women metaphor in Iroquois-Delaware relations, sister's nephews (the Delawares) to uncles (the Iroquois Confederacy). Europeans and Indians understood each other's gender metaphors, suggesting a shared sensibility about the rhetorical power of gender, age, and kin hierarchies as well as a shared anxiety about the “masculinity” of Indian and European nations joined in alliances.

Keywords: gender metaphors; kinship; sexuality; insults; masculinity; Iroquois Confederacy; Delawares-as-Women metaphor

Chapter.  8757 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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