Chasing Empire Across the Sea: Communications and the State in the French Atlantic, 1713-1763

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Banks defines and applies the concept of communications in a far broader context than previous historical studies of communication, encompassing a range of human activity from sailing routes, to mapping, to presses, to building roads and bridges. He employs a comparative analysis of early modern French imperialism, integrating three types of overseas possessions usually considered separately - the settlement colony (New France), the tropical monoculture colony (the French Windward Islands), and the early Enlightenment planned colony (Louisiana) - offering a work of synthesis that unites the historiographies and insights from three formerly separate historical literatures. Banks challenges the very notion that a concrete "empire" emerged by the first half of the eighteenth century; in fact, French colonies remained largely isolated arenas of action and development. Only with the contraction and concentration of overseas possessions after 1763 on the Plantation Complex did a more cohesive, if fleeting, French empire first emerge.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An ambitious study of an important, but difficult-to-reach dimension of European colonialism in America. The systematic comparison of the port towns of Quebec, New Orleans, and St Pierre is in itself a major contribution, but Banks' analysis offers much more. He explores an array of texts and information generated by the mundane operation of empire through the exciting lens of new cultural history, providing vital material and interpretation for a better comparative understanding of imperial communications systems across space and time. Daniel H. Usner, Jr., Department of History, Cornell University "The comparative nature of the study is most welcome. Histories that compare and contrast the different parts of the French colonial world are few and far between. Banks is to be congratulated for having undertaken and ambitious inter-colonial study." A.J.B Johnston, author of Life and Religion at Louisbourg
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780773524446
  • Publisher: McGill-Queens University Press
  • Publication date: 11/21/2002
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth Banks is an NEH fellow at the American Antiquarian Society. He is currently researching a book on French contraband in the Early Modern Atlantic World.
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Table of Contents

Tables and Maps
A Note on Terms and Translations
Introduction 3
1 The Rise of the French Atlantic to 1763 14
2 Proclaiming Peace in 1713: A Case Study 43
3 Sea and Land Connections 65
4 State Ceremonies and Local Agendas 101
5 Travel and Assembly, Disorder and Revolt 127
6 Merchant Networks and Imperial Dependence 153
7 Authority's Fragmented Voice 184
Conclusion 217
App. A Secretaries of State for the Marine 223
App. B Governors General and Intendants of New France 224
App. C Governors General and Intendants of the Iles du Vent 225
App. D Governors and Commissaires-Ordonnateurs of Louisiana 227
Notes 229
Bibliography 269
Index 313
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