Thesis ID: CBB001562072

Fatal Revolutions: United States Natural Histories of the Greater Caribbean, 1707--1856 (2004)


Iannini, Christopher Paul (Author)

New York, City University of
Kelly, William

Publication Date: 2004
Edition Details: Advisor: William Kelly
Physical Details: 315 pp.
Language: English

``Fatal Revolutions'' pursues the complex West Indian routes of American nature discourse. From the signing of the Treaties of Utrecht in 1714, through the Americanization phase in Louisiana, to antebellum debates over the annexation of Cuba, the sugar islands formed a volatile locus of Euro-American ambition and anxiety. During those same decades a series of prominent North American naturalists found themselves almost fatally impelled toward study of the multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and transnational region---extending from Venezuela and Colombia in the south through Florida and Louisiana in the north---that recent scholars have named the greater Caribbean. Figures including St. John de Cr&e`vecoeur, William Bartram and John Audubon---along with European collaborators such as Sir Hans Sloane and Alexander von Humboldt---produced a substantial corpus of narratives, images and exhibits of circum-Caribbean environments, societies and commodities. Surveying a broad range of natural historical depictions of the region, the four central chapters of my study attempt to situate key documents of early American and U.S. culture within a specific Black Atlantic geography, one that was itself crucial to the development of Caribbean Studies by figures including Eric Williams and C. L. R. James. Several generations ago, their anti-colonial scholarship helped to locate North America firmly at the periphery of an eighteenth- century global economic vision centered on Caribbean sugar and slavery. ``Fatal Revolutions'' argues that this powerful counter-geography haunts the ostensibly nationalist designs of texts including _Letters from an American Farmer_, Bartram's revolutionary-era travel narrative of the Florida borderland, and Audubon's autobiographical account of the mass slaveholder exodus from Haiti to New Orleans. Through varied aesthetic means, their authors depicted the greater Caribbean as source of an ardently desired yet disruptive superabundance, extolling West Indian trade and commodities as source of prosperity and prestige, while warning of the threat to borders and beliefs posed by the _mestizaje _ of the Caribbean plantation, and subaltern movements that included the spread of West Indian-style slave revolution.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 65/04 (2004): 1370. UMI pub. no. 3127882.

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Authors & Contributors
Fishman, Gail
Fry, Joel T.
Irmscher, Christoph
Fiedler, Horst
Leitner, Ulrike
Magee, Judith
Acta Historica Leopoldina
University Press of Florida
Rutgers University Press
Pennsylvania State University Press
Lutterworth Press
University of Georgia Press
Natural history
Travel; exploration
Science and art
Bartram, William
Humboldt, Alexander von
Audubon, John James
Bartram, John
Peale, Charles Willison
Catesby, Mark
United States
Philadelphia, PA
North America: United States; Canada
New England (U.S.)
19th century
18th century

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