Kathleen DuVal

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

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A borderland is both a place and a historiographic methodology, although historians often combine the two uses. A borderland, in its loosest definition, is a place where two entities (usually nations or societies) border each other. As a methodology, borderlands studies question what happens when distinct societies rub against each other or contest lands in between. What do those situations tell us about both the core societies and the spaces in between? Borderlands studies are active across time periods and continents; this entry will focus on North American borderlands before 1850. In most of these cases, historians study borderlands where more than one European power (or the United States or Mexico in the 19th century) bordered on another, creating spaces of unclear jurisdiction and resulting fluidity. Moving away from European-centered definitions of cores and peripheries, historians in recent years have noted that a borderland can also refer to the contested space between an American Indian power and a non-Indian one, or two American Indian powers. For early American history, the historiographic concept of borderlands derives from Herbert Bolton’s school of the Spanish borderlands, the Spanish colonies north of central Mexico, where imperial power was weak and the French and English held neighboring colonies.

Article.  4834 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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