Polity Formation and Atlantic Political Narratives

Elizabeth Mancke

in The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199210879
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Polity Formation and Atlantic Political Narratives

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From a global perspective, the Atlantic basin was an extremely dynamic arena of political change in the early modern era. Polity formation, re-formation, and collapse occurred as collateral consequences of European expansion, whether the spread of infectious diseases, the establishment of settler colonies, or commercial opportunities. Thus new polities arose in West Africa to engage in maritime trade with Europeans, Comanches came to the fore on the southern Plains of North America by dominating the market for horses, and the St Lawrence Iroquoians collapsed in the face of overwhelming pressures. Yet these diverse examples of political change tend to be pushed to the margins of the historical narrative of governance in the Atlantic world which is still stalwartly Eurocentric, bracketed, as it were, with the European settlement of colonies, their maturation, and their bids for independence in the Age of Revolution.

Keywords: Atlantic world; polities; polity formation; political change; West Africa; maritime trade; Comanches; North America; Iroquoians; colonies

Article.  8198 words. 

Subjects: History ; Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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