Indigenous London Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire Coll Thrush, Kate Shanley, Ned Blackhawk

The Henry Roe Cloud Series on American Indians and Modernity
Publication date:
03 Jan 2017
Yale University Press
328 pages: 235 x 156 x 29mm
40 b-w illus.
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An imaginative retelling of London’s history, framed through the experiences of Indigenous travelers who came to the city over the course of more than five centuries

“Thrush has certainly offered a powerful corrective to the usual geographies imagined for Indigenous people in the past, as well as a new layer to the palimpsest history of Britain’s imperial capital.”—Kate Fullagar, William and Mary Quarterly

London is famed both as the ancient center of a former empire and as a modern metropolis of bewildering complexity and diversity. In Indigenous London, historian Coll Thrush offers an imaginative vision of the city's past crafted from an almost entirely new perspective: that of Indigenous children, women, and men who traveled there, willingly or otherwise, from territories that became Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, beginning in the sixteenth century. They included captives and diplomats, missionaries and shamans, poets and performers. Some, like the Powhatan noblewoman Pocahontas, are familiar; others, like an Odawa boy held as a prisoner of war, have almost been lost to history. In drawing together their stories and their diverse experiences with a changing urban culture, Thrush also illustrates how London learned to be a global, imperial city and how Indigenous people were central to that process.

Coll Thrush is associate professor of history at the University of British Columbia, where he is also affiliated with UBC’s Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies. He is the author of Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place.

“This book confirms Coll Thrush’s position as the best historian of place working in Native American and Indigenous studies today. Indigenous London is a major contribution to the growing scholarship of the Red Atlantic.”—Jace Weaver, author of The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927

“In this elegantly written and wide-ranging book Coll Thrush successfully challenges the widely assumed binary between urban civilization and indigenous people. In his exciting and always illuminating tour of the indigenous presence in the metropolis of the British Empire from the 16th to the 21st century, Thrush recovers the ways in which North American, New Zealand, and Australian native peoples sought to challenge settler colonialism. This book is a must read for those interested in indigenous peoples, London and the British Empire.”—Steve Pincus, author of 1688: The First Modern Revolution

“This is a truly innovative and engaging book. It demonstrates splendidly how the presence of these visitors stimulated a great deal of curiosity and speculation, as we would expect, but also forced Londoners to see the city through their eyes.”—Karen Kupperman, New York University

“In this extraordinarily rich and compelling book, Coll Thrush has succeeded admirably in bringing to life the half-millennium-long phenomenon of Indigenous engagement with London. A terrific work of scholarship and a stunning act of authorial invention.”—Eric Hinderaker, author of The Two Hendricks: Unraveling a Mohawk Mystery