Abstract and Keywords
Gender frontiers are but one starting point for comparing cultural contact zones and analyzing imperialism and racial formation in the early modern Atlantic. Recent scholarship on Native American and African encounters with Europeans suggests a need for a more complex analytical framework. Africans and Native Americans participated actively in creating this cultural frontier—by persisting in, adjusting, or transforming precontact practices or by assuming that the uninvited newcomers might share enough core beliefs and desires to be incorporated or vanquished. Europeans who participated in producing colonialism engaged in creative and destructive processes, but they remained connected to elite people in imperial centers that were buffered—by distance, money, and power—from such changes. The significance of gender frontiers is best understood as one phase in the longer historical processes they gave rise to: the emergence of new, syncretic cultures and populations, and the racialized and reactive cultures that quickly followed.
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